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Soviets hint Baghdad talks could lead to breakthrough

The Soviet Union sent strong signals Saturday that Iraq may be reconsidering its refusal to withdraw from Kuwait. President Mikhail Gorbachev, speaking on a visit to Spain, said there were signs President Saddam Hussein of Iraq "has understood that a solution cannot be found through ultimatums."

Gorbachev noted that a high-level Soviet envoy was in Baghdad and that Iraq could clarify its intent "in the next days."

As he spoke, the Soviet Union unexpectedly asked the U.N. Security Council to delay voting on yet another resolution criticizing Iraq's Aug. 2 invasion of Kuwait.

The resolution would hold Iraq liable for war damages and urge it to stop mistreating residents of Kuwait. It would be the 10th Security Council resolution against Iraq.

The delay request was granted.

The Soviet ambassador to the United Nations explained that postponement would "create a better atmosphere in Baghdad" for the meeting there today between Hussein and the Soviet envoy.

"It's too soon to speculate, but I think they're talking seriously there," the ambassador said.

Even a remark by President Bush lent weight to the speculation that Hussein may be changing his mind about refusing to leave Kuwait.

Bush said with the deployment of the U.S.-led multinational force in the gulf and the imposition of a U.N.-mandated economic embargo of Iraq, Hussein is "taking another look because we are deadly serious."

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