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DATE=1/13/99 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT NUMBER=2-244123 TITLE=IRAQ/MEDIATION (S/L) - CQ BYLINE=RICHARD ENGEL DATELINE=CAIRO CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: NEW STATEMENTS FROM BAGHDAD (WEDNESDAY) INDICATE THE IRAQI LEADERSHIP MAY BE BACKING DOWN FROM ITS CONFRONTATIONAL STANCE TOWARDS FELLOW ARAB NATIONS. RICHARD ENGEL REPORTS FROM OUR MIDDLE EAST BUREAU THE APPARENT SHIFT COMES AS ARAB STATES ARE INCREASING DIPLOMATIC EFFORTS TO SOLVE THE IRAQI CRISIS. TEXT: A SPOKESMAN FOR IRAQ'S PRESIDENT SADDAM HUSSEIN SAID, IN REMARKS PUBLISHED WEDNESDAY, THAT IRAQ SEEKS A BALANCED DIALOGUE BASED ON GOOD INTENTIONS UNDER THE UMBRELLA OF THE ARAB NATIONS TO FIND PRACTICAL SOLUTIONS TO THE SITUATION. THE STATEMENT IS FAR MILDER THAN THE BELLICOSE RHETORIC THAT HAS COME OUT OF BAGHDAD IN RECENT DAYS. AT ONE POINT, IRAQ CALLED FOR THE OVERTHROW OF ARAB GOVERNMENTS THAT DO NOT SUPPORT HIM -- CAUSING A WAR OF WORDS AND COMPLICATING ARAB EFFORTS TO COME UP WITH A UNIFIED DIPLOMATIC POSITION ON IRAQ. // OPT // ANOTHER STATEMENT FROM BAGHDAD (TUESDAY) URGED ARAB NATIONS TO STAND BEHIND HIM IN HIS CONFRONTATION WITH THE UNITED STATES AND BRITAIN. // END OPT // ANALYSTS SAY THE APPARENT CHANGE IN ATTITUDE MAY BE AN ATTEMPT TO INFLUENCE ARAB STATES WHICH HAVE BEGUN TO COORDINATE THEIR POSITIONS ON THE IRAQI CRISIS BEFORE A MEETING OF ARAB FOREIGN MINISTERS IN CAIRO, SCHEDULED FOR LATER THIS MONTH. /// OPT /// SEVENTEEN ARAB STATES HAVE REPORTEDLY AGREED TO ATTEND THE FOREIGN MINISTERS MEETING, WHICH IS TO BE HELD AT THE THE SAUDI-CAPITAL, RIYADH. GULF-ARAB STATES, LED BY SAUDI ARABIA, HAVE BEGUN TO MEET AT THE LEVEL OF FOREIGN MINISTERS TO PREPARE FOR THE ARAB-LEAGUE MEETING. THE SAUDI-OWNED "AL HAYAT" NEWSPAPER SAID FOREIGN MINISTERS FROM SAUDI ARABIA, KUWAIT, BAHRAIN, QATAR, OMAN, AND THE UNITED ARAB EMIRATES WILL SOON MEET IN THE SAUDI-CAPITAL, RIYADH, TO DISCUSS IRAQ. IT WOULD BE THE THIRD TIME GULF STATES' FOREIGN MINISTERS MEET IN SAUDI ARABIA IN LESS THAN A MONTH. // END OPT // ARAB DIPLOMATS SAY SAUDI ARABIA HAS A PLAN TO EASE THE ECONOMIC SANCTIONS IMPOSED ON IRAQ. WHILE PREVIOUS STATEMENTS FROM IRAQ INDICATED IT WOULD NOT ACCEPT A SAUDI-DEAL, IRAQ'S NEW TONE MAY BE AN INDICATION THE IRAQI LEADERSHIP IS READY TO COMPROMISE AND ACCEPT AN ARAB-SPONSORED SOLUTION. (SIGNED) NEB/RHE/RAE/JO/GE 13-Jan-99 10:19 AM EST (1519 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .