Iraqi Vice Premier Tariq Aziz said here today that his country had retaken all of the territory that it claims from Iran and that it recognized some of the land it now holds to be Iranian.
Iraq's No. 2 leader told this to reporters after a lengthy meeting with French President Valery Giscard d'Estaing. French officials said the Iraqi gave the overwhelming impression of being ready to negotiate.
The Iraqi goals Aziz outlined today, coupled with similar statements by Iraqi officials elsewhere, provided the first, albeit tentative, outline for Iraq's position in a possible negotiated settlement of its war with Iran.
"We have no ambitions in Iran," he said. "Iraqi lands are enough for us. Our resources are enough for us."
But he was careful to define which territory wrested from Iran his government considered Iraqi and which Iranian.
Iraqi Defense Minister Gen. Adnan Khairallah said yesterday that Iraq had conquered only 80 square miles from Iran, but French sources estimate Iraqi penetration along the 100-mile front of the Shatt-al-Arab estuary to involve at least ten times that area.
Aziz defined Iraq's peace conditions in general as:
Iranian respect for Iraqi sovereignty over its lands and waters;
Good-neighborly accords with Iraq and Iran's other Arab neighbors;
Guarantees of noninterference in Iraq's internal affairs;
A halt to all aggressive activities.
The Iranian charge d'affairs in Paris, Ali Bani Fatami, host for a conference of Iranian envoys in Western Europe, said at a press conference several hours after the Iraqi vice premier's that there was no question of Iran's accepting mediation so long as Iraqi forces have not gone home and halted their "agression."
Bani Fatami said the Iranian government would not recognize Iraq's claim to sovereignty over the Shatt-al-Arab waterway dividing the two countries. The three islands of Abu Musa and the Greater and Lesser Tumbs historically belonged to Iran, he added.
The islands, in the Strait of Hormuz, were occupied by Iran under the late shah in 1971 when Britain was withdrawing from that region.
"As long as Iraq continue to attack Iran, the Iranian people will defend themselves," he said.
Aziz indicated that occupation of the three islands was not now an immediate Iraqi war aim.
The islands he said, are rightfully Arab but not Iraqi, as a good will gesture toward its neighbors, Iran should evacuate them and return them to their rightfully owners, the United Arab Emirates, he said. But Iraq has "no mandate" from anyone he said, to reoccupy them in the name of that Arab nation.
French diplomats said they believed that Iraq might try to get Iran out of the islands at the negotiating table by demanding that Tehran give them up in exchange for the return of lands the Iraqi army holds in western Iran.
In Vienna, Iraq's ambassador to Austria, Mohammed Sadiq al-Mashat, said his country would cease fire as soon as Iran recognized "agreed-upon borders" and Iraqi sovereignty over Shatt-al-Arab. He also said Iran should return the three disputed islands to Arab sovereignty. The Iraqi defense minister, Khairallah, outlined similar goals yesterday.
Iraq has no ambition to become the gendarme of the Persian Gulf because the gulf is Arab and "needs no gendarme," Aziz said.
Iraq, he said, has no claim on Khuzestan, Iran's Arab-populated south-western region that is the country's oil-producing center. It is up to the people of the region to decide what they want, the vice premier said.
The French, who are the Westerners closest to the Iraqis, have been saying that the Iraqis are likely to stir up demands for broad local autonomy in the region they call Arabistan but not try to annex Iran's most vital resource.
Aziz said that his country had sufficient resources of its own and did not want to take Iran's oil.
Contrary to what French sources say were their expectations, Aziz did not ask for any more French arms or for a speedup in the delivery of those already ordered. "We have enough for now," Aziz said.
About a quarter of Iraq's arms are French, and most of the rest are from the Soviet bloc.
Aziz insisted that his country would refuse no offers of mediation by anyone, except Israel and the United ystates.
He said Baghdad was ready to reach an agreement with any Iranian government, including the present one. He categorically denied that there were any Iranians fighting alonside Iraqi forces, but he did say that Iraq had "friends" in the Iranian opposition whom it wishes well. He refused to name them.
Aziz said that Iraq had been "forced" to resort to military action by a year and a half of "hostile and even provocative" statements and activities by the government of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
He said that the Khomeni regime had consistently honored only those provisions of the 1975 Iraqi-Iranian treaty on their Shatt-al-Arab frontier that were in Iran's interests. But he ducked repeated attempts to make him to into detail.
Aziz said that Iraq would do everything in its power to assure free navigation on the Shatt-al-Arab and through the Strait of Hormuz.
At one point he said that this was not entirely up to Iraq, since "it is the hysteria of the Iranian leaders that threatens freedom of navigation in that region." But at another point, he said that Iraq had the means to guarantee free passage. He also said that Iraq would fulfill its responsibilities to continue exporting crude oil.