PARIS, OCT. 1 -- Iraqi President Saddam Hussein ordered the release of nine French hostages today in a new attempt to coax Paris out of the global coalition arrayed against him, but the French government spurned any special treatment and demanded the immediate release of all foreign hostages held in Iraq.

The French captives, who were serving as human shields at strategic sites to deter a military attack, were scheduled to leave Iraq in the custody of Gilles Munier, president of the French-Iraqi friendship society, according to the official Iraqi news agency.

"Who would not rejoice over the fact that nine people have regained their liberty?" said Hubert Vedrine, a spokesman and senior adviser for President Francois Mitterrand. "But this does not change in any way the basic situation. What is expected from Iraq is immediate freedom for all hostages without exception."

French officials stressed the importance of the international community providing some incentive for Saddam to abide by U.N. Security Council resolutions or soon face the inevitability of war.

"We have about one month left to achieve a diplomatic breakthrough, because everything we see and hear tells us that war will come after the middle of November," a senior French official said. "The president {Mitterrand} is worried that . . . Saddam Hussein needs to be given a face-saving way to change his position and agree to pull out of Kuwait."

Despite the continuing harsh rhetoric from Baghdad, the French government discerns a potential fallback position for Saddam in the way he has carved up Kuwait two months into the occupation. The Rumaila oil field, along with Bubiyan and other islands in the gulf in the disputed border area, have been attached to the administration of the southern Iraqi city of Basra while the rest of Kuwait has been declared a separate province.

That division suggests to French analysts that Saddam may be preparing to keep vital areas along the frontier while returning the rest of Kuwait in the hope it would satisfy world opinion enough to end the embargo.

But advisers close to Mitterrand said they were still perplexed by Saddam's long-term intentions about Kuwait. Saddam's repeated avowals that Kuwait will remain a permanent part of Iraq and the removal of all vestiges of national sovereignty may well reflect an unyielding determination to incorporate the feudal sheikdom.

Successive conciliatory gestures by Iraq toward the Western nation that supplied Saddam with the most sophisticated weapons in his arsenal have become embarrassing for Mitterrand's government, which denied today that it was engaged in secret negotiations with Baghdad.

Iraq issued an uncharacteristic apology last week after its soldiers raided the French ambassador's residence in Kuwait and seized three French nationals. On Sunday, Saddam praised Mitterrand for the "positive ideas" that the French president advanced in a speech at the United Nations, and the Iraqi called for a dialogue to replace "threats and warnings" and establish a peaceful resolution to the Persian Gulf crisis.

Last Monday, Mitterrand laid out a four-phase approach to peace in the Middle East. If Iraq would free all foreign hostages and announce its intention to withdraw from Kuwait, Mitterrand said, "everything would become possible." The United Nations could then supervise the retreat of all foreign troops in the region, the restoration of Kuwait's sovereignty and "the democratic expression of the choice of the Kuwaiti people."

The French head of state said permanent peace arrangements, encompassing conflicts in Lebanon and between Israelis and Palestinians over the occupied territories, could be settled later at an international peace conference on the Mideast.

French officials said they were surprised by the dismayed response from the Bush administration, which complained that Mitterrand was breaking a united Western front by failing to insist on the unconditional and total withdrawal of Iraqi soldiers from Kuwait and the return of Emir Jabir Ahmed Sabah to power.

Some of France's partners in the 12-nation European Community were also upset by Mitterrand's speech before the U.N. General Assembly because it broke a pattern of close consultations they have followed in a bid to harmonize their foreign policy. Advisers close to Mitterrand confirmed that no government, including that of the United States, was apprised of the speech in advance.

The call for a democratic choice in Kuwait, the senior French official said, is necessary to provide a proper rationale for the Western military effort. Noting that few governments would find popular support "in going to war only to save the Sabah dynasty," the official said that "we need to prove that we are willing to defend legitimate governments, and not certain people in power."

Despite Saddam's continuing hard-line stance, the French government has gleaned some indications that the global isolation and effectiveness of the U.N. trade embargo is finally penetrating the sycophantic atmosphere that surrounds the Iraqi leader and distorts his vision of political reality.

"The Iraqis say they cannot understand how France can join the enemy camp after supporting them so much during eight years of war with Iran," the senior official said, citing letters written by Iraqi government ministers to French politicians and businessmen pleading for a more sympathetic French policy.

Besides the dispatch of 4,000 French ground troops to positions near the Iraqi-Saudi border, Saddam has been hurt by "the apparent refusal of Iran to cooperate in breaking sanctions and the Soviet Union's strong opposition" to the Iraqi invasion, the official said.

As sanctions begin to bite and Western firepower in the region becomes overwhelming, it is not inconceivable that Saddam might embrace a compromise that could disrupt the global consensus President Bush has orchestrated.

Analysts speculated that the release of all hostages and an Iraqi troop withdrawal from Kuwait in return for U.N.-supervised elections there and a lifting of the embargo could become acceptable to Iraq once Saddam is sure that the people now living there would never vote to restore Kuwait's deposed rulers.