D.C. Mayor Marion Barry, no longer hopeful that he can negotiate a plea agreement with federal prosecutors, told key advisers over the weekend that he has no interest in seeking a fourth term, sources said yesterday.

In a meeting Sunday with 10 longtime supporters and financial contributors, Barry indicated he soon would announce his decision not to seek reelection, offering as explanation his frustration with the District's mounting financial problems.

"He said he doesn't have it in his stomach to be cutting the city to the bone," said one Barry adviser.

However, several sources close to Barry described the mayor's decision in part as a move to try to win sympathy from potential jurors, after concluding that a pledge not to run again would be of little use in trying to persuade U.S. Attorney Jay B. Stephens to negotiate a plea agreement.

Offering to abandon his reelection plans could help Barry's strategy, a source said, by conveying the image to potential jurors and his own political organization that he was being forced out of elective politics by the U.S. government.

Barry has harshly attacked the conduct of Stephens's office in the case, at one point describing his arrest and prosecution as a "political lynching."

Barry went on trial last week in U.S. District Court on 14 counts of cocaine possession and perjury.

Jury selection is expected to be completed by the end of this week.

During the two-hour session Sunday night at the home of Charlotte G. Chapman, the treasurer of his reelection campaign, Barry told his allies that his defense team is conducting no plea negotiations with Stephens's office.

The mayor also told his suporters he is willing to listen to an offer that might forestall his trial.

Sources said Barry remains adamant about not pleading guilty to any of the three felony charges against him because doing so is likely to entail a prison term.

R. Kenneth Mundy, the mayor's chief defense lawyer, also said yesterday that the two sides are engaged in no plea negotiations.

"There are no official plea negotiations going on," Mundy said. "We're not even pointing at that now."

The gathering, which one participant described as a "wake," followed a week of intense speculation about the mayor's political and legal future, which was heightened by Jesse L. Jackson's call for Barry and Stephens to reach a plea agreement.

Jackson, who issued his appeal after discussing the case with Barry, spoke Sunday night and again yesterday with the mayor, according to a source.

Jackson would not comment yesterday about his conversations with Barry, except to say the mayor was still "wrestling with a decision" about whether to seek another term.

"He's quite concerned about the pain and burden on his wife and child and mother," Jackson said. "He's concerned with the number of witnesses called to testify under subpoena. He's concerned about the city and the consequences of a long trial."

Like several Democratic Party activists who have spoken to Barry in the past few days, Jackson said he was uncertain when an announcement from the mayor might come. "He must, in his own time and in his own way, make his own public judgment," the civil rights leader said.

Others, including members of Barry's camp, said the mayor's announcement not to run again was inevitable, and would come later this week.

"There's no question that he's going to get out," said a second person who attended the Sunday meeting. "It will be soon."

D.C. Council member John A. Wilson (D-Ward 2), who met briefly with the mayor on Friday, said Barry told him on several occasions that he would not run again. But Wilson added: "I don't believe the mayor . . . . He can change his mind again."

Wilson said Barry indicated to him on Friday that he would make his announcement last night on the "Evening Exchange" program on WHMM-TV (Channel 32). Barry, who one associate said was irritated by media reports about his planned appearance, did not go on the show.

Anita Bonds, Barry's top political aide, said last night that an announcement could come at almost any time. "I imagine he will be doing something soon," Bonds said. "I think, when he feels most comfortable."

Despite the intense anticipation about an announcement from Barry, some observers said it still was possible the mayor would make no decision -- or delay announcing it for some time.

"He loses power and influence when he gives the word," said a Democratic leader in the District.

Others, including political activists sympathetic to the mayor, contended that it was not necessarily in Barry's interest to announce he would not run again. These observers said such an announcement by itself would do little to open the door in plea negotiations and would rob Barry of an opportunity he would want to have if he is exonerated at trial.

"This announcement, if it comes, might be the beginning of the end for the mayor, and some of us are going to be very unhappy about that," said one Barry loyalist who asked not to be identified. "I, for one, have nowhere else to go {politically} and besides, I wouldn't want to."

Participants in the Sunday meeting included Bonds and her aide, Alice Harper; Jeffrey Cohen, a developer and longtime Barry supporter; Jeffrey N. Gildenhorn, a restaurateur and D.C. Boxing Commission member who has been a chairman of the mayor's reelection campaign; businessman Stuart J. Long, a D.C. Armory Board member and a key Barry fund-raiser; Ben Johnson, a senior housing official in city government; and Marshall Brown, Pat Mathis and Thornell Page, all longtime Barry friends.

Chapman said yesterday she did not participate in the meeting in her home.

Staff writer Michael York contributed to this report.