BAGHDAD, IRAQ, JULY 17 -- Iraqi President Saddam Hussein said in a speech here today that he hopes direct negotiations now underway with Iran will soon lead to a formal peace treaty between the two nations, and he raised again the possibility of a summit meeting to resolve remaining issues.
In Tehran, meanwhile, Iranian President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani told Iran's Tehran's Assembly of Experts: "The talks have been fruitful, and the two countries are expected to move toward peace. The Iraqis, too, have adopted a more positive stand toward the establishment of peace."
Foreign ministers Ali Akbar Velayati of Iran and Tariq Aziz of Iraq met in Geneva this month in their first face-to-face talks since a United Nations-sponsored cease-fire brought a halt to the bloody eight-year Persian Gulf war in August 1988.
U.N.-mediated talks began five days after the cease-fire but quickly collapsed, with Iran insisting that Iraq withdraw from land occupied in the last weeks of the war, while Iraq demanded that Iran dredge the Shatt al Arab waterway -- the confluence of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers -- of war debris.
A 1975 treaty drew the border down the middle of the 120-mile channel, giving Iran navigation rights on the waterway for the first time. Iraq unilaterally abrogated that treaty when it invaded Iran in September 1980 and demanded full sovereignty over the waterway.
In an address today on the 22nd anniversary of the coup that brought his party to power, Saddam Hussein said: "The Iranians responded favorably to our proposal for a summit meeting, and we hope that recent diplomatic and ministerial meetings will pave the way for progress toward peace."
In radio broadcasts monitored in Cyprus, Rafsanjani was quoted as saying that both Iran and Iraq realize that only "the arrogant powers" -- a common Iranian reference to the United States and its Western allies -- "benefit from the no-war, no-peace situation in the gulf."
The English-language Tehran Times, a paper close to Rafsanjani, urged that future meetings be held in Baghdad or Tehran. While Iraq has been pushing for a Tehran-Baghdad summit, The Times said nothing substantive was achieved at Geneva beyond creation of an "amiable atmosphere" for further talks.