JIDDAH, SAUDI ARABIA, SEPT. 6 -- Saudi Arabia gave the United States an explicit commitment tonight to devote billions of dollars in windfall oil revenues to underwrite the cost of the American military deployment here and to ease the economic woes of other Arab nations joining the international embargo against Iraq, Saudi and Bush administration officials said.

In an hour-long meeting with Secretary of State James A. Baker III at the royal family's sprawling Salaam Palace here, King Fahd said his nation would make contributions, either in cash or fuel and other necessities, toward the cost of supporting the largest American military deployment in a generation, the officials reported. He pledged additional sums toward aiding the front-line states of Egypt, Turkey and Jordan who have joined the drive to isolate Iraq for its invasion of Kuwait, they said.

In a related development, officials in Washington and Saudi Arabia said the Saudis have agreed to receive about 50,000 more Egyptian and Syrian troops to join U.S. and other forces defending the desert kingdom from attack by Iraq.

Although final details and arrival dates have not been set, the agreements would allow fulfillment of the first large pledges to send Arab forces to defend Saudi Arabia, the officials said. They would also give military substance to the new political alliance taking shape among Saudi Arabia, Syria and Eygpt to counter Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's expansionist ambitions.

The new deployments could raise the level of Saudi and other Arab and Islamic troops to more than 100,000, roughly equivalent to the first phase of deployment of U.S. troops to Saudi Arabia.

{There were signs that the international unity against Baghdad might be cracking, the Associated Press reported. China and Iran suggested that food and medicine should be sent to Iraq despite the U.N. economic sanctions.

{Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Li Jinhua said today, after talks with Iraq's visiting deputy prime minister, Taha Yassin Ramadan, that the embargo "does not include supplies intended strictly for medical purposes and foodstuffs for humanitarian purposes."

{The Tehran Times also said, "Since, according to U.N. resolutions, food and medicine are not included in the sanctions, by choosing to help the Iraqi people Iran will not be breaking any international law." Last month Iranian President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani had said Iran would abide by the embargo.}

On the oil-proceeds issue, Saudi and U.S. participants placed the value of the commitment in the billions of dollars but put no exact price tag on it. A senior Saudi diplomat said there was a "meeting of the minds" on the size and scope of the aid. A senior Bush administration official said the United States hoped this and other contributions from wealthy Persian Gulf states, along with smaller amounts from Europe and Japan, would cover most of the estimated $6 billion in minimum extra expense the U.S. military will incur by year's end in Operation Desert Shield.

President Bush has been under increasing pressure at home to win such commitments from the gulf states being protected by U.S. forces and from European and Asian nations that rely on the region's oil supplies. Senior U.S. officials said tonight that the Saudi contributions had been implicitly promised several weeks ago but were made more explicit in the meetings tonight. They said Saudi officials realized the donations are increasingly important as a way to maintain U.S. domestic political support for the operation and global solidarity for the embargo against Iraq.

Similarly, the agreements about greater Arab troop presence on Saudi soil followed expressions of concern in Washington that Arab governments, especially those with large armed forces, had only made token contribution to the multinational forces in Saudi Arabia. Some Arab governments, notably Egypt, have been saying for weeks that they were willing to send more troops, but the Saudis had not invited them.

In a related development, new Pentagon estimates circulated on Capitol Hill indicated that the cost of keeping U.S. forces in the gulf in fiscal 1991 will total at least $11.3 billion, far exceeding all defense cuts now proposed in Congress.

And a newly released congressional report concluded that during the 1987 gulf tanker-escort operation, the United States bore the brunt of the expense and that a number of nations that used gulf oil paid almost nothing to defray the expense of the reflagging.

Here in Jiddah, participants said the hour-long meeting between Baker and Fahd, as well as two meetings tonight by Baker with Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud Faisal, also focused extensively on the mood in the deeply divided Arab world in the wake of Saddam's invasion and occupation of Kuwait, and the long-term consequences for the region. The senior Saudi diplomat quoted Baker as attempting to reassure the Saudis that he did not intend by his testimony to the House Foreign Affairs Committee this week to suggest that U.S. ground forces should maintain a long-term presence.

In that testimony, Baker had suggested a new "regional security structure" to contain Saddam much as the Atlantic alliance had contained Soviet communism and that this might require a lasting U.S. naval presence. In his conversations here, Baker said he did not mean to imply establishing a North Atlantic Treaty Organization for the Persian Gulf, the diplomat said. Rather, Baker emphasized the importance of gulf states "helping themselves" and expanding on existing alliances such as the Gulf Cooperation Council.

Saudi and U.S. officials said the issue of command over multinational troops here in the event of fighting did not arise in the talks tonight.

The Bush administration officials said Saudi Arabia would provide fuel, water, transportation and other services to American forces here to cover the "bulk" of U.S. costs inside Saudi Arabia. However, the officials said precise details -- how the aid would be delivered, whether in-kind or cash -- were not settled.

Figures obtained earlier by The Washington Post indicate that the administration was seeking about $4 billion annually from Saudi Arabia toward the cost of aiding poorer nations and another $500 million a month to defray the cost of U.S. ground forces here.

En route here, a senior State Department official on Baker's plane told reporters that Baker would base his appeal for the aid on calculations that Saudi Arabia is reaping significant new revenue because of the increase in the price of oil following Iraq's invasion of Kuwait.

Fears of a gulf war and a possible oil shortage have driven prices from about $18 before the invasion to about $30 a barrel. According to some estimates, the price rise has brought Saudi Arabia at least $60 million a day in new revenue.

Baker, who told Congress this week that the operation would cost the United States $6 billion by year's end, noted today that figure was not the total cost of Pentagon operations, but only the additional expense beyond what would have been spent for the troops and equipment in use. "That's a part of the added responsibility here . . . we need to look at covering," he said.

Baker has shown sensitivity to the idea that he has been sent rattling a tin cup on behalf of the United States. He told reporters that there are important "diplomatic" aspects to the trip he began today to the Middle East and Europe, which also includes the weekend U.S.-Soviet summit in Helsinki and separate meetings in Moscow next week.

But the fund-raising appears to be a central part of Baker's mission. Similar appeals are to be directed this week at the exiled government of Kuwait and United Arab Emirates. According to previous administration estimates obtained by The Post, the United States is seeking $3 billion from the Kuwaitis and $1 billion from United Arab Emirates toward economic support for the nations most affected by the embargo of Iraq. Those countries are chiefly Egypt, Turkey and Jordan. Smaller amounts are being sought from U.S. allies in Europe and from Japan, but some officials have said those contributions have been disappointing.

The United States is also seeking an estimated $400 million from Kuwait's exiled government and $100 million from the emirates toward support for American forces here.

Also today, Baker responded to the suggestion this week by Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze for an international conference on the Middle East.

"It's been no secret the Soviets for a long time have been interested" in such a conference, Baker told reporters. Baker said the United States "has never ruled out" such a conference "at an appropriate time, and we still don't," but he said "it would be a very bad mistake" to link the gulf crisis with the Arab-Israeli peace process, as he said the Soviet proposal would do.

On the matter of expanded Arab troop deployments, U.S. officials said arcane inter-Arab protocols and questions of compensation and available sealift to move large forces had held up discussions until Bush last week told his top advisers to help break the impasse.

Since then, U.S. ambassadors in Cairo, Riyadh and Damascus were said to have urged Arab leaders to resolve their differences in part because of the long-term political problems that could arise in Congress, where influential members such as Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sam Nunn (D-Ga.) are calling for a greater commitment of Arab ground forces.

Under the agreement, Egypt would send two Army divisions -- about 30,000 troops -- with tanks and artillery on about eight commercial ships chartered with Saudi financing, the officials said. Theforces would embark as soon as the ships are located and chartered. An Egyptian military delegation left Cairo for Saudi Arabia yesterday to begin preparations for the forces.

Under a separate Saudi-Syrian agreement, Syria would send an Army armored division of about 20,000 troops backed by 270 Soviet-made tanks and artillery, according to Arab sources. A Bush administration official said, however, that Syria would phase in these troops perhaps over a six-month period and would initially send a brigade, 4,000 to 5,000 troops.

There are now about 2,000 Egyptian airborne and 3,200 Syrian special forces troops in Saudi Arabia.

Neither Syrian nor Egyptian forces would report to U.S. commanders in Saudi Arabia, which chose Lt. Gen. Khalid bin Sultan, the son of the kingdom's defense minister, commander of "Joint Arab-Islamic Forces."

Syrian officials were said by one source to insist that their troops operate under a distinctly separate chain of command from the one directing U.S. forces. This condition reflects the strong Arab nationalist bent of Syrian President Hafez Assad, who sees the Arab military response to defend Saudi Arabia as an Arab issue.

According to several Arab sources, Syria and Egypt have been pressing Saudi Arabia for a precise commitment regarding the size of its financial compensation package to cover the deployment of the three divisions.

In a related announcement, the senior officials said Senegal had agreed to send troops to join those from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Morocco, Bahrain, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Oman. Britain also said yesterday that it would provide more ground forces.

Iraqi Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz completed a visit to Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev in Moscow and said Baghdad would welcome a more active role by the Soviet Union in finding a diplomatic solution. But reports from the Soviet capital have given no indication that Aziz had made any progress in enlisting the support of Moscow, a former close ally.

Staff writers Patrick E. Tyler in Washington and David B. Ottaway in Jiddah contributed to this report.