UN Secretary-General Javier P'erez de Cu'ellar was expected yesterday to announce a cease-fire in the Iran-Iraq war, halting a conflict that by some estimates has claimed 1 million lives. The announcement had not yet come by press time. But the widely expected truce date was Aug. 19. The UN Security Council appealed to both sides to end all military activity immediately.
The UN chief is poised to hold direct talks between Iran and Iraq under his auspices as soon as a UN military observer force can be stationed on both sides of the border to monitor the truce.
Both Iraq and Iran left letters of commitment over the weekend with Mr. P'erez de Cu'ellar, containing their promises to enter the direct talks and to fulfill all provisions in the UN peace plan.
Establishment of a cease-fire was made possible when Iraqi President Saddam Hussein over the weekend dropped his demand for direct talks before a truce. Iraq also appeared to drop its insistence on negotiating many of the key details of the plan after a cease-fire began. UN diplomats report that Iraq now has indicated no difficulty with the formulas worked out between the UN and Iran in talks over the past two weeks.
Implementation of the UN peace plan starts on or soon after what P'erez de Cu'ellar calls ``D-date'' - the day when the cease-fire is to take hold. Though the time-frame is still confidential, diplomats predict all points should be completed within 1988. They are:
The beginning and completion of troop withdrawal.
Repatriation of war prisoners.
Commissions of inquiry on responsibilities for the conflict and on the amount of war damages.
Recommendations for reconstruction and for security in the Gulf.
Beginning of talks to find a permanent solution to the war.
Iraq has insisted that the paragraphs of the Security Council Resolution 598 must be implemented in strict sequential order.
Iran for months insisted that determining responsibility for the conflict must begin simultaneously with the cease-fire, and it had arrived at an agreement on this with P'erez de Cu'ellar.
An Iranian spokesman confirmed Monday that when his foreign minister came to the UN, he had no preference on the order of paragraphs. He said, ``Iran is following the resolution without any preference,'' but that the provisions are intertwined and several steps will start at or about the same date. In effect, he said, the order in which the provisions will be implemented will not depart much from the formula Iran agreed to earlier.
Iran's foreign minister was expected to leave New York Monday evening, but is prepared to travel for talks at P'erez de Cu'ellar's request.
Although there is some speculation that the talks may be held in Geneva, P'erez de Cu'ellar has expressed a preference that the talks be held here.
Iraq's foreign minister may be back for further discussions before the direct talks begin, diplomats say. He will bring his military advisers and diplomats who participated in the original negotiations of the 1975 Algiers agreement which delinated the border between Iran and Iraq.
The Security Council has also prepared a separate resolution to establish the UN observer force as a peace-keeping operation. Diplomats indicate that some 25 neutral nations will contribute up to 350 soldiers total, and that the cost for the initial period is estimated at $47 million.