AMMAN, JORDAN, OCT. 3 -- A special envoy of Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev arrived here today on his way to Baghdad and said the Kremlin leadership saw possibilities for a peaceful settlement of the Persian Gulf crisis.
Yevgeny Primakov, a member of Gorbachev's Presidential Council, will be the first senior Soviet emissary to visit Baghdad since Iraq invaded Kuwait two months ago. In New York, Soviet Foreign Minister Edward Shevardnadze said that his mission is primarily to arrange the evacuation of Soviet citizens but that he also hoped to meet with Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.
The visit of the Soviet envoy came as French President Francois Mitterrand arrived in the United Arab Emirates for talks with Arab leaders and Japanese Prime Minister Toshiku Kaifu continued his peace-seeking efforts in the region. Kaifu is to meet here Thursday with Iraqi Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan.
Saddam made his first announced visit to captured Kuwait today, and the occupied country's capital "glittered with pride" at his visit, the official Iraqi News Agency reported. Meanwhile, Palestinian terrorist Abul Abbas threatened to "retaliate" against the United States if it used the U.N.-imposed air embargo to harm Iraq's civil aviation, Baghdad's official Jumhuriya newspaper reported, according to the Associated Press.
Primakov met with Jordan's King Hussein and gave him a letter from Gorbachev. He is scheduled to meet with Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Yasser Arafat before going to Baghdad on Thursday.
Speaking to Jordanian television, Primakov said, in response to a question, "The Soviet leadership sees possibilities for a peaceful and political settlement. Otherwise, there would be no special envoy here."
His arrival coincided with remarks in Paris by Youssef Ben Abbes, Morocco's ambassador there, that Saddam has no intention of becoming a martyr and could be willing to negotiate over his seizure of Kuwait. "The annexation of Kuwait can be discussed and negotiated -- notably a better access to the sea, joint oil exploitation and canceling the Iraqi debt," Ben Abbes told reporters, following a visit to Baghdad by an envoy of Morocco's King Hassan.
The Iraqi News Agency said Saddam met with his military commanders in Kuwait City during his visit there today. It said Iraqi soldiers assured him of their readiness to die for Iraq, in an apparent response to reports in the Western press of desertions in Iraq'a army.
Moscow, in the past a solid ally and arms supplier of Iraq, has taken a hard stance against its annexation of Kuwait and expressed willingness to share intelligence with the United States about Iraq's military capabilities.
Primakov, in an interview published today in Literaturnaya Gazeta in Moscow, said of the gulf crisis: "Here is a unique 'laboratory' where we are testing our efforts to create a new world order after the end of the Cold War."
"Very much depends on Soviet-American solidarity, on parallel activity or joint political action, on mutual support," he added.
In New York, Shevardnadze said Primakov had gone primarily to "arrange normal conditions for the withdrawal of Soviet citizens" from Iraq. He said "some problems and difficulties" had arisen for the Soviet citizens in Iraq, who he said number about 5,000. They include about 150 military personnel and several hundred civilian advisers to the Iraqi army, according to the Soviets.
A Soviet Foreign Ministry spokesman said Tuesday that Iraq has withheld exit permits for 870 oil industry workers in southern Iraq and 372 construction workers on the Yusifia thermal power plant near Baghdad. He was quoted as saying that 5,174 Soviet nationals remain in Iraq following the evacuation of 536 women, 274 children and many specialists.
Mitterrand arrived in Abu Dhabi tonight on a trip to inspect French troops and consult with Arab leaders in the first visit to the region by a Western leader since Iraq invaded Kuwait. He met tonight with Sheik Zeid Sultan Nahayyan, president of the United Arab Emirates. He will also visit the 300 French paratroops sent there in August and stay overnight on the French frigate Dupleix in the gulf.
Mitterrand will go to Saudi Arabia Thursday for talks with King Fahd and to inspect French forces in the Red Sea port of Yanbu. He may also visit Camp Khaled, near the Iraqi border, where most of the 4,000 French ground troops are based.
France announced that eight Mirage F-1 fighter planes are being sent to Qatar to provide protection for that sheikdom and the United Arab Emirates. They are to be followed by 16 other French warplanes later this week.
French officials said Mitterrand, who is accompanied by Defense Minister Jean-Pierre Chevenement and Foreign Minister Roland Dumas, is fulfilling a promise made last month to make a personal visit as commander in chief of French armed forces. President Bush is expected to travel to Saudi Arabia in November to review U.S. forces.
Mitterrand's spokesman Hubert Vedrine said that Mitterrand and the U.A.E. ruler discussed almost exclusively how to promote gulf peace initiatives.
A speech last week at the United Nations, in which Mitterrand said "everything would become possible" if Saddam would announce his willingness to pull out of Kuwait and release the hostages, was an effort to invite Saddam to find a face-saving way out of the crisis. But the speech stirred consternation in Washington because Mitterrand did not specify that Kuwait's deposed ruler Sheik Jabir Ahmed Sabah should be restored to power and instead called for "the democratic expression of the choice of the Kuwaiti people."
French officials said Bush telephoned Mitterrand to ask if the speech represented a change in policy. They said Bush was assured France was insisting that Iraq must adhere to the U.N. resolutions, and that there could be no question of negotiations before Iraq releases the hostages and leaves Kuwait.
Reporters accompanying Mitterrand today said he told them he sent a letter to Bush Monday describing the reasoning behind French policy.
But they said France would not make its policy contingent on restoring the Sabah dynasty to power, especially since any armed conflict would probably involve French troops and warships. "We are prepared to fight for the restored sovereignty of an occupied country, but not for the people who were in power," a senior Mitterrand adviser said.
In New York, Arab foreign ministers at the U.N. General Assembly met informally to discuss the gulf crisis, but Iraq boycotted the session. Kuwait's exiled foreign minister, Sabah Ahmed Sabah, said participants agreed to have their delegates to the Arab League meet Oct. 22 to plan for a meeting at foreign-minister level.
Iran, meanwhile, said it will not take part in any military attempt to force Iraq out of Kuwait, Reuter reported.
Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati told the Iranian newspaper Kayhan that Iran favors a political solution through implementation of U.N. Security Council resolutions banning trade with Iraq. "Use of force should be the last-ditch effort to solve the crisis and in that case Iran would in no way contribute to such an effort," he said.
Correspondent William Drozdiak in Paris and staff writer John M. Goshko at the United Nations contributed to this article.