UNITED NATIONS, NEW YORK
WITH word from Washington that the ground offensive had begun, the United Nations Security Council abandoned attempts Saturday night to work out a compromise to secure Iraq's withdrawal from Kuwait. Yemen's Ambassador Abdalla al-Ashtal walked out of Council consultations and spoke emotionally about his regret that the United States could not wait two or three days to pin down Iraq's agreement to pull back. He charged that ``the Security Council is the first victim of the ground war.'' US Ambassador Thomas Pickering countered that ``this is a campaign carried on and authorized by the Security Council.'' Earlier Saturday afternoon, UN Secretary-General Javier P'erez de Cu'ellar had appealed to the Council to work out a deal. He said that ``openings towards a cessation of the conflict have been clearly revealed during the past two days. It would be tragic in the extreme if the opportunities that have been created were now to be lost.'' Soviet Ambassador Yuli Vorontsov momentarily raised hopes in the Council just before the Saturday noon deadline set by President Bush by reporting that Iraqi Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz had ``reacted positively'' to US terms for withdrawal just before leaving Moscow Saturday. Iranian diplomats report that when Mr. Aziz was in Tehran last week on his way to Moscow, he told ranking Iranian officials that he believed the US wanted to replace Iraq's Baath Party leadership - and that Iraq would agree to US terms just to confound this intention. The Iranians say that Aziz was expected in Tehran on his way back from Moscow, but the Iraqi envoy flew instead to Amman, Jordan. They speculated that Aziz was in Amman to head the alternate communications center set up to direct the few remaining Iraqi diplomatic missions around the world. A second theory was that a decision had been made to keep some of the senior Iraqi leadership outside of the country to ensure their survival. The US made clear Saturday its rejection of a proposal put forward in Moscow - and accepted by Aziz - that 11 other punitive UN resolutions be rescinded once Iraq's withdrawal was complete. The US and its coalition allies told Council members that they were unprepared to compromise on Resolution 662, which declared Iraq's annexation of Kuwait null and void. Nor, they said, would they agree to revoke Resolution 674, which invites the submission of claims against Iraq for damages caused by its invasion and occupation of Kuwait. Mohammed Abulhassan, Kuwait's ambassador to the UN, told the Council that, if Iraq did not formally rescind the annexation, Iraqi forces could withdraw from Kuwait now, but still have a pretext to return in the future. The Kuwaiti representative pointed out that Resolution 660, which requires withdrawal of Iraqi forces to positions occupied on Aug. 1, also demands negotiations to resolve any differences between Iraq and Kuwait. This, he indicated, would imply full Iraqi recognition of Kuwait's sovereignty. Mr. Abulhassan claimed that 20,000 Kuwaitis had disappeared during the six-month Iraqi occupation, and he said that Kuwait would insist on Iraqi reparations. Iraq's ruling Revolutionary Command Council called on the Security Council Friday to establish a neutral committee to investigate war damages caused by coalition forces in Iraq and Kuwait. The move seemed designed to offset the liabilities that are certain to be charged against Iraq. Another major problem, Iraqi diplomats said, was agreeing to withdraw without a declared cease-fire on land, at sea, and in the air. The US had given pledges not to attack withdrawing Iraqi forces. But, the Iraqis asked, ``What about Israel?'' Even as the noon deadline loomed, Iraq launched Scud missile attacks on both Israel and Saudi Arabia. US Defense Secretary Dick Cheney said Saturday that the US could never accept a cease-fire that Iraq could use to regroup its forces - and thus put American lives at risk. -PATHNAME- /usr/local/etc/httpd/plweb/DBGROUPS/paper/database/tape/91/mar/week10/oresp.