RIYADH, SAUDI ARABIA, AUG. 28 -- Saudi Arabia has set up separate commands that are to coordinate Arab and American troop actions here and has obtained a commitment from President Bush to consult King Fahd before launching any move against Iraq from Saudi territory, the top Saudi officer for both commands said here today.

Lt. Gen. Khalid bin Sultan, commander of Saudi air defense forces, said that American troops based in Saudi Arabia would remain under a separate joint command but still coordinate closely with Arab and other forces that have been placed under his overall command.

But he left unclear whether there is any agreement among the Arab, American, European and other forces assembling here and elsewhere in the Persian Gulf about what would constitute an Iraqi "provocation" that would trigger a response. He also did not specify under what circumstances the Arabs might join an American-Saudi action against on Iraqi forces in Kuwait.

He made clear that in the wake of Iraq's Aug. 2 invasion of Kuwait, the Saudi leadership has begun to expand considerably the nation's armed forces and increase arms purchases.

Khalid rejected the idea of a permanent American presence here but said that Saudi officials had begun discussing new arms purchases with the Bush administration and European governments.

{In Washington, officials said the Bush administration has decided to sell Saudi Arabia F-15 fighter planes, M-60 tanks, Stinger anti-aircraft missiles and other weapons in a package that could cost $8 billion.}

According to Khalid, the invasion of Kuwait, which raised fears that Iraqi troops would march into Saudi Arabia, prompted a reevaluation within the Saudi leadership of threats to the kingdom. "Saudi Arabia never planned in the past that we would be faced with conflicts with Iraq," he said. "We thought that they were our brothers."

"I can see a problem for us in the future," he added. "We have to increase our capabilities, and we will."

Asked whether the United States had to consult with Saudi Arabia before taking any offensive action from Saudi soil, Khalid said: "I know for a fact that it has to be consulted {about} between King Fahd and President Bush."

The questions of command and military coordination have become murkier as more nations have sent troops, planes and ships to the region. Also unclear is how any possible unilateral American action, or a joint U.S.-Saudi move, would affect other forces here.

Khalid, who was making his first appearance before Western reporters since the crisis began, is commander of what is called the Joint Arab-Islamic Forces, made up of troops from Morocco, Egypt, Syria, Bangladesh, five other Arab gulf states and the Afghan guerrilla coalition. He also serves as the Saudi counterpart to U.S. forces chief Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf on a U.S.-Saudi command.

Asked whether the Saudis or the Americans were in command here, Khalid said that in military tactics there were "always areas of responsibilities," but he refused to elaborate. "Otherwise, we are letting the enemy know what's our plan," he said.

He said that he and Schwarzkopf were coordinating "very closely" and knew "exactly what to do if a crisis occurs."

Khalid said he was unable to comment on whether the Joint Arab-Islamic Forces would become involved in a U.S. or U.S.-Saudi, attack on Iraqi forces in Kuwait and Iraq. "It has to be discussed," he said.

But he seemed to disagree with Sen. Sam Nunn (D-Ga.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, who has called for more Arab troops to be sent here to help defend the kingdom. "I can say that we have sufficient troops between all the forces," he said.

The Arab-Islamic forces were here, he said, to defend the kingdom and its oil-rich Eastern Province.

He declined to say whether Saudi military planners agreed with American officials who have urged a massive strike against Iraq if war breaks out, saying only that "I'm sure we have to react quickly."