The White House has chosen April C. Glaspie as the first American woman to serve as an ambassador in the Arab world, appointing her to succeed David Newton in Iraq, informed Arab diplomatic sources said yesterday.

The sources said Glaspie, director of the State Department's regional desk responsible for Lebanon, Jordan and Syria, was notified by the White House of her selection three days ago and has yet to receive Baghdad's agreement.

Iraq is expected to accept her appointment, the sources said.

Iraq is one of very few Arab, or Moslem, countries that the State Department regards as amenable to accepting a female ambassador. Most others would likely refuse such a choice because of Islamic traditions that do not favor women playing prominent diplomatic roles.

Although Islam is the religion of more than 90 percent of Iraq, the nation prides itself on its secular, socialist ideology emphasizing the strict separation of religion and state.

Glaspie, who has served as a political officer in Lebanon, Kuwait, Egypt and Syria, is regarded as one of the State Department's top Arab-world specialists.

If confirmed by the Senate, she will be going to Baghdad at a time when U.S.-Iraqi relations have improved considerably.