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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

U.S. Orders More Troops to Kuwait

KUWAIT-- U.S. President Bill Clinton said Tuesday he had ordered the sending of 3,500 additional ground troops to Kuwait in his continuing confrontation with Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.


"I authorized the deployment last weekend and ... the deployment orders were signed last night," Clinton said in Washington. A Pentagon official said troops would go "in the coming days."


The decision to send more troops came as Kuwaiti envoys sought Arab support for the U.S. buildup and a day after U.S. Secretary of Defense William Perry consulted often-skeptical allies in the Middle East and Europe.


Clinton has faced criticism from both directions ever since the confrontation with Iraq began late last month when Saddam's forces intervened in north Iraq -- an area closed to them for the past five years.


Clinton, who faces a presidential election in less than two months, was attacked on Tuesday by opposition Republicans for the lack of impact from two U.S. cruise missile attacks on Iraq he ordered in reprisal for Saddam's venture into northern Iraq.


"Saddam Hussein is far better off than he was two weeks ago," said Republican Senator John McCain.


Clinton and top administration officials briefed Republican and Democratic congressional leaders amid signs that chances of another U.S. show of force in the Gulf were diminishing.


Baghdad sought last week to avert another U.S. assault by suspending further missiles attacks on U.S., French and British warplanes enforcing a no-fly zone against Iraqi aircraft flying over northern and southern Iraq.


Perry had received little public support for the U.S. threat of further attacks on Iraq during talks in the Middle East and Europe on Monday with members of the 1991 coalition that drove Iraqi occupation forces from Kuwait.


Despite that, the U.S. military buildup continued. The U.S. nuclear-powered submarine Pittsburgh passed through the Suez Canal on Tuesday to join a naval force in the Gulf that will include two aircraft carriers. Patriot anti-missile missiles arrived in Saudi Arabia.


Kuwait, the only Arab country to solidly support the current U.S. action, sent envoys around the Middle East on Tuesday to try to persuade Arab governments that the U.S. military buildup was necessary to deter Iraqi aggression.


Information Minister Sheikh Saud Nasser al-Saud al-Sabah said after seeing Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak that Kuwait felt threatened by Iraq.


The United States has focused on the need for protecting the oil-rich Gulf states, but the crisis began with Iraq's backing of Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani in a Kurdish civil war.


Despite the return of Saddam's influence to the region, which forced the United States to offer sanctuary to about 2,500 Kurdish and Iraqi refugees with links to Washington, a meeting between Barzani and a senior U.S. official appeared likely.


An Iraqi opposition group said Barzani would go to Turkey on Thursday to meet Robert Pelletreau, the U.S. assistant secretary of state for near eastern affairs. The U.S. embassy in Ankara said a meeting was being arranged.