AMMAN, JORDAN, AUG. 22 -- Jordan's King Hussein announced today that he will visit Baghdad and other Arab capitals in a diplomatic peace initiative as Jordan, swamped with more than 120,000 refugees, closed its border to any more foreigners fleeing Iraq and Kuwait.
In Cairo, Kuwait's exiled prime minister, Crown Prince Saad Abdullah Sabah, took a hard line on the issue of talks with Iraq, flatly rejecting any unconditional negotiations before a complete withdrawal of the Iraqi forces that invaded his country Aug. 2 and a restoration of the ousted monarchy.
As the United States and other countries continued their military buildup in the region, Iraq claimed that two unidentified aircraft violated its airspace today, flying from Saudi Arabia and penetrating about three miles into Iraq. An Iraqi spokesman did not identify the planes or say whether they were military. In Washington, a Pentagon spokesman said he had no information about the alleged incident.
Hussein, announcing his planned trip at a press conference here, expressed urgency, saying, "I believe we are almost facing the kind of crisis of a world gone mad and I hope that our efforts and efforts of others will enable us to achieve the objective of bringing about a halt to the escalation."
He said he sensed "a desire in the world for some bloodletting in this area," and wanted to "avert the kind of explosion that could easily occur by calculation or miscalulation in a way that would have a devastating effect on the region and the world."
He said he would begin his trip "in the next 24 hours," and that it would include Iraq, but he named no other countries. Hussein's declared support for Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has alienated him from many Arab leaders in the region, especially in the Persian Gulf.
Hussein said he had not spoken personally with Saddam since he was in Iraq before visiting the United States last week. Hussein said he had come back from talks with President Bush feeling a "degree of comfort" and he expressed the view that Iraq would not fire the first shot to start any major hostilities in the gulf.
"As far as I can tell Iraq is holding a pretty defensive posture," Hussein said.
Iraqi Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz declared Tuesday that his government was ready to talk to the United States and "put all its cards on the table" in discussions of regional problems. But he ruled out withdrawal from Kuwait and it was not clear how Hussein or others would bring about negotiations. Kuwait and much of the world have demanded that Iraq relinquish Kuwait.
Asked today what it would take to get Iraq to pull its troops out of Kuwait, Hussein said the Arab world had a duty to solve this problem.
"As to how and where and when, if the situation is calmed down to a degree I think we could be on our way to solving this problem in a satisfactory manner," he responded.
Hussein alluded to the closing of Jordan's border to refugees, which was announced a few hours after his press conference, when he spoke of "serious problems" the country is facing in meeting the needs of the vast throngs of Arabs and Asians coming from Kuwait and Iraq. He said 185,000 people of different nationalities had arrived in Jordan and about 120,000 are still here because of difficulties in transporting them to their homelands.
Two adults and four children have died in the exodus, Hussein said, without giving details. "We are doing all we can, but we may have to slow down, and we are trying our very best to provide food and shelter," he said.
Today alone, he said, about 42,000 people appeared at Jordan's borders. Thousands of Pakistanis, Indians, Yemenis and Filipinos are living in schools and mosques, in tents set up near their embassies' grounds, and even in streets, parks and private gardens.
Jordanian Interior Minister Salem Masadeh, announcing the restrictions, effective at midnight tonight, said the border would be closed only to foreigners attempting to enter Jordan. Jordanians would be allowed to enter, he said, and anyone would be allowed to cross from Jordan into Iraq.
Skirting a direct condemnation of Iraq for its strategy of keeping Westerners hostage as human shields against military attack, Hussein cited Jordan's "long record" in respecting the freedom of movement of others and said: "These are extraordinary circumstances we are facing and we are trying our best to find solutions to these problems and certainly to the problem to which you refer."
Hussein also said Jordan will abide by the sanctions against Iraq that were imposed by the U.N. Security Council but that he was seeking explanations on just what items were covered. Aqaba, Jordan's Red Sea port, has long been used by Iraq for sending and receiving cargo but has been largely quiet this week.
Iraq enjoys wide support in Jordan, and today about 200 Jordanian women, in both modern Western and traditional Moslem dress, demonstrated at the U.S. Embassy to protest America's leadership role in the multinational force arrayed against Iraq in the gulf.
In Cairo, Kuwait's Sabah dismissed as "not serious" an offer made Tuesday by Iraq's Aziz to open negotiations with the United States for a peaceful settlement of the crisis.
Sabah said that, rather than be drawn into negotiations that could lead to demands that Kuwait agree to territorial concessions, the exiled emir, Sheik Jabir Ahmed Sabah, and the rest of the royal family would concentrate on reorganizing and rearming the scattered Kuwaiti armed forces "so that they can take an advance role in our struggle."
Crown Prince Sabah spoke at a news conference in one of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's Cairo palaces during a break in his diplomatic shuttles through the Middle East in search of Arab unanimity in support of Kuwait's insistence on an unconditional Iraqi withdrawal.
"We in Kuwait are not ready to accept any proposal unless it implements resolutions of the Arab summit and the U.N. Security Council," Sabah said, referring to resolutions calling for a total Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait and the restoration of the monarchy.
"We are sure the Iraqi regime is not serious at all, and is only playing for time," he added.
Asked about specific compromise suggestions that have been proposed, including one in which Kuwait would yield sovereignty over the Bubiyan and Warba islands at the outlet of the Khor Abdullah waterway into the Persian Gulf, Sabah replied firmly, "We are not ready at all, now or at any time in the future, to concede a single inch of territory.
"Second, we have now on our side Arab and international resolutions calling for an Iraqi withdrawal from all Kuwaiti territory. Once that is in effect and the legitimate government is back in power . . . we have no objections to considering negotiations on certain subjects that were outstanding before the invasion."
He appeared to be referring to Iraq's demand for forgiveness of debts owed Kuwait and payment of billions of dollars in indemnification for oil that Iraq claims was taken from disputed territory near the border between Kuwait and Iraq.
Sabah said reports of growing guerrilla resistance within Kuwait to the Iraqi occupation were "quite correct," although he would not discuss details of the resistance movement.
"Our people have actually started chasing the enemy and attacking him everywhere. We are going to increase this resistance as they withdraw from our country," he said.
As U.S. and other naval vessels continued their campaign against vessels trading with Iraq, a senior official in Yemen said that an Iraqi tanker that docked in Aden this week has unloaded only a small quantity of its oil, Reuter reported. He said other Iraqi tankers waiting to unload in Aden would not be allowed to do so before Yemen consults with the United Nations.
Washington Post correspondent William Claiborne in Cairo contributed to this article.