As Iraq continued to press Asian nations cooperating with the international trade embargo against it, an Indian official said yesterday that his government has arranged with Baghdad to distribute a shipment of food to Indian refugees stranded in Iraqi-occupied Kuwait.

In sending food to Kuwait, where Iraq has said East Asian nationals will no longer be fed from Iraqi-controlled food stocks, India is trying to protect its citizens without violating United Nations trade sanctions.

The U.N. Security Council voted last week to permit food to pass through the embargo only for humanitarian purposes and only under supervision of the United Nations or other international agencies, such as the Red Cross.

The rule was established to ensure that food sent for humanitarian purposes is not used to feed the Iraqi army. Since the Aug. 2 Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, refugees from the emirate have described occupying Iraqi troops as being ill-fed.

Iraq has objected to any role for international agencies in the distribution of food, and an Indian official said that Baghdad had turned down a suggestion that officials of such a group accompany the 10,000 tons of food on the Indian ship.

"They said they prefer to handle {the distribution} bilaterally," said the Indian official, who spoke on condition he not be named. To fulfill the Security Council's conditions, he said, India is sending four officials of the Indian Red Cross on the vessel, the Vishwa Siddhi, which left the south Indian port of Cochin Sunday.

He said Iraq had cleared the ship to dock at Umm Qasr, an Iraqi port at the Kuwaiti border, 50 miles north of Kuwait City. It was not clear why the ship will not be permitted to dock in Kuwait.

The food is intended for thousands of Indian citizens who remain in Kuwait out of a community of 200,000 before the invasion. Iraq announced Sept. 4 that it would not feed hundreds of thousands of East Asians in Iraq and Kuwait.

"We are working within the United Nations' rules," said the Indian official. "We would be most unhappy if this shipment were to be used to breach the sanctions."

In what some diplomats said was an Iraqi attempt to press Bangladesh to break with the sanctions, Baghdad has detained about 2,000 Bangladeshis to work in military camps in Kuwait and also is holding a number of Bangladeshi diplomats accredited to Kuwait who are trying to return home. A statement from the Bangladeshi Embassy in Washington said the staff of the embassy in Kuwait had suspended operations and traveled to Baghdad to return home but that Iraq is withholding exit permits.

Meanwhile, the flow of Kuwaiti refugees into Saudi Arabia, which was heavy over the weekend, remained slow yesterday, news agencies reported. Only about 750 crossed the border, a day after refugees began reporting that Iraqi soldiers were detaining Kuwaiti men who tried to flee.