AMMAN, JORDAN, OCT. 4 -- Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister Taha Yassin Ramadan said today that Iraq prefers war to capitulation and he rebuffed suggestions that Iraq might be prepared to relinquish Kuwait, saying that any discussion of such a pullout must be linked to Israeli withdrawal from occupied Arab land.

"We prefer war to submission, but if war is imposed on us we have to face up to it," Ramadan, Iraq's number two leader after President Saddam Hussein, told journalists here. He declared that Iraq would not fire the first shot, but said it would strike back against its opponents with a "defeat that will not be forgotten across the ages."

As Ramadan delivered bellicose threats here, Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev said in Moscow that he does not expect war to erupt in the Middle East and his special envoy, Yevgeny Primakov, arrived in Baghdad for talks with Iraqi officials. Japanese Prime Minister Toshiki Kaifu and French President Francois Mitterrand, meanwhile, continued their peace-seeking efforts in the Persian Gulf region.

Gorbachev, talking to reporters before meeting with Oman's Vice Premier Qais bin Abdulmonim Zawawi, also told reporters, in answer to a question, that he was not planning to send Soviet troops to the gulf, where forces of several nations are massing in response to Saddam's invasion of Kuwait two months ago.

"I think there are already more than enough troops there," Gorbachev said, but he added, "The U.S.S.R. will fulfill its role to the end." The Soviet Union has maintained a united front with the West in its stand against Iraq and has supported U.N.-imposed trade embargoes against it.

Ramadan, in a press conference here that followed meetings with Kaifu and Jordan's King Hussein, emphasized that Iraq would not accept any preconditions for negotiations on the gulf crisis unless similar ones were imposed on Israel regarding Arab territories. His insistence that Kuwait is now part of Iraq appeared to dampen prospects for the flurry of diplomatic encounters in the region involving envoys of various nations.

In response to comments made recently by President Bush that an Iraqi pullout from Kuwait would pave the way for discussion toward solutions to other regional problems, Ramadan said: "We also say that the withdrawal of Americans forces from Nejd and Hejaz {in Saudi Arabia} is what will pave the way . . . but the presence of these troops and American intervention in our affairs cannot ensure the path to dialogue."

Ramadan's remarks alternated between defiance and conciliation, with repeated affirmations of Iraq's previous hard-line stand. His arrival capped two days of high-level diplomatic meetings in the Jordanian capital with no apparent breakthrough, despite several days of somewhat tempered rhetoric from the Iraqi capital.

"We have decided, and let us stress our principle, not to fire the first shot. If other forces do, they will not be able to estimate the end nor the scope of the battle and they will lose, God willing, all remaining assistants in the region, including the Zionist entity," he warned, referring to Israel.

He described a proposal made by Mitterrand at the United Nations last month -- which said that if Iraq were to affirm its intention to withdraw from Kuwait "everything would be possible" -- as the beginning of "hope," but he gave no sign that Iraq would leave Kuwait.

"I'd like to clarify that talk about the Iraqi withdrawal," he said. "Kuwait is an indivisible part of the Iraqi state. When we accept to talk about this issue, it should be connected with other major issues. We are prepared for dialogue, not just withdrawal."

Ramadan predicted that "the coming period" would witness further diplomatic efforts "to enlarge the dialogue between us and the European Community."

A Japanese spokesman said Kaifu had stressed his country's insistence on the need for an Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait, the reinstatement of the Kuwaiti ruling family and the release of all foreign hostages held in Kuwait and Iraq. The spokesman said Kaifu had rejected linking Iraq's withdrawal to the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Kaifu announced a $250 million Japanese pledge to Jordan in talks with Jordanian Prime Minister Mudar Badran and Crown Prince Hassan. Japan has promised $2 billion for the multinational forces in Saudi Arabia.

Before flying to Turkey for further peace talks, Kaifu also met with King Hussein, who has been one of the region's strongest supporters of Saddam. Hussein, according to Kaifu's spokesman, urged international flexibility, saying, "We must deal with the causes of the gulf crisis in a realistic fashion. We must keep a door open."

At his news conference, Ramadan brusquely denied an Amnesty International report issued Wednesday that alleged that Iraqi forces had killed and tortured dozens of people in Kuwait since seizing it.

When a reporter challenged the Iraqi official to take journalists into Kuwait to see for themselves, Ramadan menacingly informed the packed conference room of foreign and Jordanian journalists that "Kuwait is not your concern. Kuwait is a province of Iraq and we will cut off the leg of any person who enters it against our wishes."

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, a leader of the Arab opposition to Saddam's invasion of Kuwait, accused Iraq today of sending teams of operatives to launch attacks in Egypt to undermine his government's stability.

"Iraq is pushing forces to create a state of instability for us, strike at some installations, throw some bombs and use arms to attack buses," Mubarak said in a televised speech marking the anniversary Saturday of the 1973 Arab-Israeli war. Egypt has caught some suspects and expects to arrest more, he said.

Egypt has contributed thousands of troops, with tanks, artillery and missiles, to the U.S.-dominated multinational force defending Saudi Arabia against possible Iraqi attack.

Soviet envoy Primakov said on arrival in Baghdad today that he expects a "very serious exchange of views." He said it is "necessary to find a political solution to prevent slipping into a military course" in the gulf crisis.

Primakov is to meet Iraqi Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz and is expected to see Saddam to deliver a message from Gorbachev. Soviet officials declined to discuss the contents of the message and said the length of the visit was undetermined. For many years, the Soviet Union was Iraq's chief superpower backer and arms supplier, but the invasion of Kuwait has sharply split the two countries.

News services reported:

Mitterrand, visiting in Saudi Arabia, assured Saudi King Fahd that he backs international efforts to isolate Iraq. After the meeting in Jiddah, Mitterrand visited French troops that have been sent to Saudi Arabia.

The USS Independence, the first American aircraft carrier to enter the Persian Gulf in 16 years, returned to the Arabian Sea today after a three-day show of force in the gulf.

Pentagon spokesman Pete Williams said in Washington, "We consider the mission of the Independence in the gulf a success. The mission was to demonstrate to our friends and allies in the region that it is possible to put a carrier in the gulf and carry out operations. Those were the goals and they were accomplished." He said flight operations were carried out.

Meanwhile, at the United Nations, Iraqi Ambassador Abdul Amir Anbari's twice-postponed speech on the gulf crisis was put off for a third time when Anbari suffered a nose bleed. He was treated at the U.N. medical office and officials said the speech would be rescheduled, possibly for Monday.

Correspondents James Rupert in Baghdad and David Remnick in Moscow contributed to this article.