Bush presses for Soviet OK to gulf action But Shevardnadze only agrees to further U.N. talks


PARIS -- U.S. officials continued yesterday to try to win Soviet support for a military strike against Iraq as President Bush prepared to depart here for a visit tomorrow with the U.S. troops he has ordered to the Persian Gulf.

Two lengthy sessions between Secretary of State James A. Baker III and Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard A. Shevardnadze produced an agreement to take up the issue at a session of the United Nations Security Council, but no commitment yet from the Soviets to support a resolution that would authorize the use of force to remove Iraqi troops from Kuwait.

"I think the time has come for the Security Council to sum up -- to take stock of things -- and to pass a proper judgment on what has been done in respect to implementation of the already passed resolutions," Mr. Shevardnadze told reporters last night.

He said that "if there's a need," the Security Council should "adopt new resolutions" to implement its previous mandates that Iraq withdraw from Kuwait.

Meanwhile, Soviet officials announced that Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev and Mr. Bush will hold a formal summit in Moscow in early January to sign a treaty that would reduce their supplies of strategic nuclear weapons.

White House spokesman Marlin Fitzwater refused to confirm a date for the Moscow meeting but said that the Soviet statement was "in the ballpark."

There had been expectations that the strategic arms reduction treaty, launched under President Ronald Reagan, would be ready for signing here while Presidents Bush and Gorbachev were attending the 34-nation Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, which ends this morning.

But the negotiations ran into complications that still haven't been totally resolved, Mr. Fitzwater said.

Mr. Bush had hoped to leave this summit with Soviet assurances of support for a U.N. resolution endorsing a military strike against Iraq if the economic sanctions in place for three months fail to win freedom for Kuwait.

As the most reluctant of the five nations with veto power on the Security Council, the Soviets are crucial to the success of such a resolution.

Mr. Bush's plans hit a snag Monday when Mr. Gorbachev called for "patience" before imposing a military solution on Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

"Every political official hopes to avoid a military solution," Mr. Gorbachev said last night during an interview on French television. "But we cannot tolerate that Saddam Hussein brings the world to its knees. That's not acceptable."

Mr. Bush's goal was to get a vote on the resolution before the end of November, when the United States will yield its chairmanship of the Security Council to Yemen, which has been friendly to Iraq. A Security Council meeting has been tentatively scheduled for Nov. 30, diplomatic sources said.

But with new signs of a delay, the White House said, Mr. Baker will fly to Yemen tomorrow to consult with officials there about the prospects of considering a military force resolution in December.

The U.S.-Soviet discussions on the resolution are focused on the terms in which it would be phrased, though Mr. Baker said last night that they have not reached a formal drafting phase.

"When you've had this number of discussions and this depth, there have obviously been a lot of little agreements and understandings reached," Mr. Fitzwater said. "But . . . we are not in a position where either side wants to make an announcement at this time."

"Just be patient, and all will be well," the president told reporters at a photo session with Turkish President Turgut Ozal, another key ally in the gulf effort.

But even as White House officials are working to keep their anti-Iraq coalition together and move it toward a "credible threat" of military action, they complained that Mr. Hussein keeps trying to drive wedges in the alliance.

Responding to Iraq's offer yesterday to release German hostages as a reward for Chancellor Helmut Kohl's conciliatory remarks Sunday, Mr. Fitzwater said: "It seems like everyday Saddam comes up with a new approach to cynicism about the hostages.

"He appears to be willing to use any pretext to try to split the alliance," the spokesman added. "And our answer is simply, 'Sorry, it won't work.' "

During his one-day trip to Saudi Arabia, President Bush plans to meet separately with Army, Navy and Marine combat units, sharing with them two Thanksgiving meals. His travels will take him from the back of a jeep in the desert to the deck of an aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf.

The "main thrust" of his visit is dedicated to "visiting with troops, visiting with the commanders, seeing firsthand the deployment of our forces, the kinds of difficulties that they face in the desert, offering them support and assurances that the American people are behind them," Mr. Fitzwater said.

Upon his arrival in Jidda tonight, Mr. Bush is also scheduled to meet with the emir of Kuwait and Saudi King Fahd.

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