Madeleine Albright, the US delegate, had said: 'Once again we have an Iraqi promise instead of action . . . it strains the credulity of this council that we should take the deputy prime minister's word for it. Words are cheap, actions are the coin of the realm.'
In a stormy open session of the council that included a personal attack on President Saddam by the British ambassador, Sir David Hannay, and an angry riposte by Mr Aziz, efforts by Mr Kozyrev, acting as broker, failed to persuade the council members that Iraq's intentions would lead to the formal recognition of Kuwait and should be rewarded by moves to ease sanctions.
Asking how the council could be sure if it lifted the oil embargo that Iraq would behave responsibly, Sir David said: 'One thing, however, is clear, and that is that the continued presence of Saddam Hussein as President of Iraq makes these questions more difficult to answer satisfactorily.'
In an angry reply, Mr Aziz accused Sir David of meddling in the internal affairs of Iraq. 'I will not respond to provocations which aim to turn the meeting away from its objectives,' said Mr Aziz. Later, Sir David said he had not meant to be polemical, 'but we have learnt in the last two weeks that leopards don't change their spots'.
Earlier, in what came over as an icy blast from the Cold War, Mr Kozyrev accused the US of making 'inadequate and misguided' judgements over President Saddam's statement of intent that he was ready to recognise Kuwait. In their formal statements, the US, French and British delegates demanded a fuller pledge from Baghdad, including a resolution by the Revolutionary Command Council, as required by the Security Council, before any sanctions could be lifted.
Warren Christopher, the US Secretary of State, tried to play down differences with the Russians after a meeting in New York with Mr Kozyrev, when he said the US-Russian partnership was 'durable and working well'. But Moscow's deep disappointment that London had sided with Washington in rejecting Mr Kozyrev's Gulf intervention was reflected in an allegation by the Russian Foreign Minister, quoted by Interfax news agency in a report from New York, that British diplomacy was 'losing its own face'. Last night the British embassy in Moscow said Mr Kozyrev had telephoned the Foreign Secretary, Douglas Hurd, from New York and apologised for not being in Moscow to see Mr Hurd as had been planned.