Jan. 9, 1991: U.S., Iraq Fail to Reach Resolution

The U.S. tried to reach an agreement for Iraq to withdraw troops from Kuwait.
7:16 | 01/09/12

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Transcript for Jan. 9, 1991: U.S., Iraq Fail to Reach Resolution
It has not been a good day in so many nations today but nowhere more so than here there was a deeply felt anticipation. But maybe when the secretary of state of the Iraqi foreign minister had finished their conversations in Geneva the dimension of the Middle East crisis would somehow be diminished. That the emphasis would be on a political solution. When the two men talked for six and a half hours there was a real flurry of optimism. But it was all wishful thinking the US and Iraq -- one day closer to war we Begin in Geneva. With our national security correspondent John McWethy. From the moment they stepped down this morning it was a -- and uncompromising conversation. Secretary baker and foreign minister Aziz admitted there was no apparent progress toward a peaceful settlement. And no new ideas were introduced by either side. Each man acknowledged that time is running out and the possibility of war appears to be growing. When it was over each man presented his case. Regrettably ladies and gentlemen. I heard nothing today that. In over six hours -- -- nothing that suggested to me. Any Iraqi flexibility whatsoever. On complying with the united nations Security Council resolutions. There have been too many Iraqi miscalculations. I've made it clear to him that we have -- We have -- made this conclusions. We -- -- very well aware of the situation. Mission baker said he found Iraq's rationale for invading Kuwait less than convincing. But I heard for instance that. They're action in invading Kuwait was defensive in nature. That they were being threatened. -- Kuwait. And I we'll tell you the same thing I told a minister which is I find it very hard to believe. -- instead of discussing a withdrawal from Kuwait Aziz argued that there could be no settlement of the gulf crisis without a settlement of the Palestinian problem first. He accused the US and using a double standard and not forcing Israel out of the territories it occupies. But when it comes to their products. -- you raise the stick. And we. -- this policy. Of government. -- I don't think many people believe that Iraq invaded Kuwait in order to help the Palestinians. And if they did it was another miscalculation because it hadn't helped the Palestinians. I think most people believe in Iraq invaded Kuwait four Iraq's own -- -- On the possibility of war baker laid out in detail what will happen if Iraq does not withdraw. Iraq. We'll be choosing and military confrontation which it cannot win. And which -- have devastating consequences. Don't miscalculate the the resolve. Of the American people. Who are. Very slow that your anger. But who believes strongly in principle. -- -- -- Defend themselves. In -- -- won't mind that. We. -- religious nation. Aziz was asked if Iraq would attack Israel if war starts. Yes absolutely yes. Aziz claimed Iraq would not be the first to attack anybody. When presented with a letter from President Bush for Saddam Hussein Aziz read it carefully then refused to accept it. Right now -- President Bush used inappropriate language for communicating with the Iraqi president. The only issue about which baker got some cooperation today was on shutting down the American Embassy in Baghdad. We have asked for and received assurances for our remaining -- diplomatic personnel. To leave on the twelfth of January. The embassy is closing down American officials say because the US is clearing the decks for a war that both men say their leaders want desperately to avoid. Yet today after so many hours of talks the lines in the sand seemed to be drawn deeper. Peter. John the secretary today described himself as somber in his entourage is there any belief that the political process can be resurrected. One way to interpret this Peter is that the US is playing the bad cop and that other people might be able to play the good cop in other words after that stern message from the United States perhaps Saddam Hussein will be convinced that if he does not do what the US is asking perhaps through some other channel. That there will be a war that's what the US is banking on now another channel. OK John thanks very much in a moment we'll talk about another channel President Bush said today that he believed Saddam Hussein still -- not understand how much force may be used against him. I think Saddam Hussein -- said the president that he would prevail. And said the president he's wrong at the White House refusing. We'll see you. After conferring with secretary of state baker by phone and watching Iraqi foreign minister -- sees on television. The president did not hide his dismay. It's this was -- a total stiff arm this was a total rebuffed. Watched. Much of the as these press conference. There was no discussion of withdrawal from Kuwait. The United Nations resolutions are about the aggression against Kuwait. -- -- about the invasion of Kuwait. The president strongly denied that his rejected letter to Iraqi president Saddam Hussein. Which the Iraqi embassy here also -- burns was rude or inappropriate. I've been around the diplomatic track for a long time the letter was proper it was direct and it was swept. I think would have been helpful to him to show him the resolve -- of the rest of the world certainly of the coalition. The president said he worries that Saddam doesn't recognize that the coalition will use its formidable force against him. And he held out only slim hope others such as the UN Secretary General and sway the Iraqi leader. And I'd have to level with the American people nothing I -- today. Nothing. Could. Leads me to believe that this man is going to be a reasonable that that he'll come around that that I keep trying. Gotta keep trying right down to the way. There -- real disappointment here tonight in today's talks produced no breakthrough. But there is still hope that the -- -- might have accomplished is more modest original goals. Helping sway American public opinion toward the view that President Bush is at least seeking a peaceful solution. And helping convince Saddam Hussein that the coalition arrayed against him means business. Peter print -- of your colleagues at that news conference and asked the president why he was in a hurry to get along with war. Of those the -- you get from Mr. Bush. Well I'm not exactly Peter but it's understandable that some might he's in the position of trying to create two somewhat paradoxical images. To the American public and to the coalition partners he wants to seem a man of reason and -- piece. But to Saddam Hussein an auditing get him to get out of Kuwait he wants a single man -- war. It's not hard to understand why some might get to two images confuse OK every -- of the White House thank you very much.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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