Bush's position on peace plan is backed by European allies WAR IN THE GULF


PARIS -- European Community leaders officially welcomed efforts yesterday by Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev to broker an Iraqi pullout from Kuwait but appeared lukewarm regarding his chances for success.

In their first chance to react publicly as a group to the prospect of a mediated settlement to the war, the 12 European Community foreign ministers closed ranks behind President Bush, who said the Soviet plan "falls well short of what would be required."

Washington's two main European allies, the British and French, appeared equally skeptical about Iraqi intentions.

French Foreign Minister Roland Dumas, speaking after the Luxembourg meeting, told French television that he was only "half surprised" by Mr. Bush's reaction.

"In the Soviet proposal, as far as I've been able to tell, no consideration has been given to dates, to a timetable," he said. "From this fact, American officials could have considered that given the time that has passed, [the proposal is] a bit late and therefore insufficient."

British Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd said that "nothing has happened yet which could lead us to suspend military action."

The foreign ministers said they had not discussed details of the Soviet plan during their meeting.

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