Cuban Foreign Minister Isidoro Malmierca, the nonaligned movement's mediator in the Persian Gulf War, met today with President Saddam Hussein and other high-ranking Iraqi officials, but there was no sign that any progress was made towards ending the two-month-old war between Iran and Iraq.
Malmierca, who had met with officials of the Iranian Supreme Defense Council earlier this week in Tehran to explore the possibilities of a negotiated settlement in the war between the two OPEC neighbors, came to Baghdad to transmit Iranian demands for "clarifications" about Iraq's actual terms for a settlement.
Saddam Hussein, however, reportedly told him there was nothing to clarify about his often stated terms, according to Third World diplomatic sources here. Saddam Hussein reportedly told the Cuban envoy that it was up to Iran to recognize Iraq's "legitimate rights," which, he claimed, had been clearly spelled out in public numerous times since the war began in September.
Basically, Iraq has demanded Iran's recognition of Iraqi sovereignty over the Shatt-al-Arab waterway that separates their southern borders at the head of the Persian Gulf. Beyond that he is seeking border lands that Iraq claims Iran has refused to turn over despite a previous treaty commitment to do so.
Iraq has also demanded that Iran agree to give back to the United Arab Emirates the three small islands of Abu Musa and the Greater and Lesser Tumbs at the mouth of the Persian Gulf that the late shah of Iran occupied by force in 1971. Diplomatic sources here, however, believe that the islands issue is negotiable and that a settlement of the war would not necessarily hinge on their restitution to Arab sovereignty.
Saddam Hussein has repeatedly said that once Iran recognizes Iraq's legitimate rights, he will order his forces inside Iran to withdraw "immediately."
Until now Iran has refused to consider any negotiations before the Iraqi withdrawl from all Iranian soil. But its request for clarification of Iraqi demands through Malmierca had briefly raised hopes that they might be softening their stands. Although the nonaligned movement's peace proposals have not been officially announced they are understood to revolve around a simultaneous Iranian recognition of Iraqi sovereignty over the Shatt-al-Arab and an Iraqi withdrawal of its troops from inside Iran.
Malmierca, who had previously made two other mediation visits to Tehran and Baghdad at the behest of Cuban President Fidel Castro, was charged by the nonaligned movement with his current mission last week at a meeting in Belgrade of the six-member nonaligned working group.