BRUSSELS, Belgium -- Secretary of State James A. Baker III disclosed new efforts by European nations to transport forces to bolster those already in the Persian Gulf yesterday while calling on NATO countries to expand their military commitment further.
Among the countries contributing to the gulf force against Iraq were Denmark, Greece, West Germany and the Netherlands.
In rapid-fire fashion, Mr. Baker also:
*Announced that he would meet with Syrian President Hafez el Assadin Damascus, Syria, on Friday to seek further cooperation toward isolating Iraq. This major boost for Syria, previously shunned because of its alleged support of terrorism, illustrates the strange bedfellows created by the gulf crisis.
*Disclosed that last week's trip to raise money from gulf states had raised $12 billion -- half of which would go toward support of U.S. military forces in the region. That $6 billion equals the estimated extra cost to the American taxpayer of the buildup. The other half would go toward aiding poorer nations suffering because of the sanctions againstIraq.
*Called on Mideast nations and the United Nations to find long-term "intrusive" ways of cutting Iraq's chemical- and nuclear-weapons threat.
*Said that his recent Ottawa agreement with Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard A. Shevardnadze on U.S. and Soviet troop levels had been "overtaken" by German-Soviet deals on the ultimate withdrawal of Soviet troops from Germany and that they were being reworked.
The announcements, only hours after the conclusion of the Bush-Gorbachev summit in Helsinki, Finland, may have been aimed at squelching the impression that Mr. Gorbachev's stress on a peaceful settlement of the gulf crisis had undercut U.S. flexibility in using force to drive Iraq from Kuwait.
After briefing North Atlantic Treaty Organization foreign ministers here on the summit and on his trip last week to the Persian Gulf region and Egypt, Mr. Baker urged them to send additional "ground-based forces." He said he wanted them to support expanded use of AWACS spy planes and to deploy a stronger naval presence in the eastern Mediterranean to reinforce the gulf deployment.
He also sought additional airlift and sea lift capacity not only for military forces and equipment but for refugees from Iraq and Kuwait.
Mr. Baker said a number of countries were in the process of stepping up their efforts, including Denmark, which was dispatching ships to transport Egyptian troops; Greece, which was sending ships; Germany, which was providing air and sealift capability, and the Netherlands, which was providing defensive materiel against chemical warfare.
The NATO foreign ministers meeting here offered no immediate pledge in response to Mr. Baker's appeal for additional forces, although NATO Secretary General Manfred Woerner of West Germany told reporters there was a consensus that countries "can and should do more."
"The allies will consider and study favorably these requests," he said.
Mr. Woerner, however, did noteven mention ground forces when he initially reiterated the U.S. proposals, a possible measure of the reception given the idea by the foreign ministers.
European nations, many of which depend far more heavily on Middle Eastern oil than does the United States, so far have been unwilling to dispatch troops to fight alongside Americans if it should become necessary. Mr. Baker did not suggest they send combat troops -- Turkey and the United States among the Atlantic allies are the only nations that have sent them -- but only unspecified ground-based forces, which could include mechanics.
The secretary proposed that NATO's emergency planning committee coordinate the airlift and sea lift of forces. The added naval presence in the eastern Mediterranean would "protect flanks," he said.
He called for expanded coverage by Airborne Warning and Control System planes to bolster efforts based in Turkey; additional economic aid to Turkey; and military and economic aid to Egypt.
He also urged governments in the Middle East, plus the permanent five members of the U.N. Security Council, to "consider intrusive internationally sanctioned measures and procedures to diminish the threat of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction," such as poison gas.
Mr. Baker defended Mr. Bush's decision to send him to Syria -- a nation with a record of violently suppressing internal dissent, of hostility to Israel and of sheltering terrorists.
He insisted that the United States was not "embracing" Syria.
Bush speech on TV
NEW YORK (AP) -- President Bush's address to a joint session of Congress at 9 p.m. tonight is to be carried by the major television networks and by Cable News Network.
Representatives said the networks would interrupt regular programming for the speech, in which Mr. Bush is expected to discuss Persian Gulf policy and his meeting with Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev.