Some Diplomats Leave Kuwait, Others Stay; Iraqi Deadline Nears With AM-Gulf Rdp, Bjt
LONDON (AP) _ Diplomats and embassy employees pulled out of Kuwait on Thursday, some obeying an Iraqi order to cease operations and others defiantly leaving skeleton staffs behind.
Iraq has declared that diplomats in Kuwait, invaded Aug. 2 by Iraqi forces and subsequently annexed, would be treated like any other foreigners after 9 p.m. Friday (1 p.m. EDT).
Egypt took one of the strongest positions, announcing Thursday that it would not close its embassy in Kuwait or reduce its staff of 20.
The United States, Japan, Switzerland, Austria and the 12 European Community nations were among those keeping reduced staffs in place in the occupied oil kingdom.
The Philippines, India and Lebanon were among those obeying the closing order. Most of the world’s nations faced no decision - only about 60 countries have embassies in Kuwait.
The United States was evacuating some personnel from its embassy in Kuwait but will leave Ambassador Nathaniel Howell and a small staff behind. Contrary to an earlier report from White House spokesman Marlin Fitzwater, the Marine guard at the embassy was withdrawn.
″A few Marine guards aren’t going to fight off the entire Iraqi army,″ a senior government official said in Washington.
Kuwait government in exile has issued a statement ″rejecting most firmly that illegal Iraqi call, which is a violation of all international laws and norms.″
Iraq’s information minister warned foreign governments not to try to keep their missions open.
″If they stay, they will be acting against our sovereignty. That would be equivalent to an act of aggression,″ the French daily newspaper Le Figaro quoted Latif Nassif Jassem as saying.
Brazil, one of the few South American nations with an embassy in Kuwait, said it had been closed temporarily for security reasons, not in response to the Iraqi deadline.
Venezuela’s Foreign Ministry said it was seeking Iraqi permission to evacuate its diplomatic staff from Baghdad as well as Kuwait, along with about 45 Venezuelans in the two countries.
Algeria has refused to recognize Iraq’s annexation of Kuwait. A diplomat in Algiers, speaking on condition of anonymity, said he expected the ″status quo″ at the embassy in Kuwait in coming days.
Egypt and some Persian Gulf states had not announced a decision, weighing fears for the safety of their diplomats against closing their embassies and symbolically accepting Iraq’s annexation of Kuwait.
″There is little option for missions located in Kuwait but to comply with the decision,″ India’s Foreign Minister Inder Kumar Gujral told Parliament.
The Philippines announced that it would move its entire Kuwaiti embassy staff to Baghdad. The government cited fears for the safety of an estimated 90,000 Filipino workers in Kuwait and another 3,000 in Iraq.
Soviet Foreign Ministry spokesman Yuri Gremitskikh said Thursday that he believed the Soviet charge d’affaires, the highest-ranking officer, was still at the embassy in Kuwait.
″What will happen after the 24th, we’ll inform you later,″ Gremitskikh said.
Finland announced that it would not obey the Iraqi order, but ″temporarily vacated″ the embassy on Tuesday.
″We simply could not guarantee the safety of our personnel in the embassy so we felt that it would be safer to move them out. But I emphasize that we have not moved the embassy or closed it,″ said Osmo Lipponen, a Finnish Foreign Ministry spokesman.