MOSCOW, OCT. 17 -- Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev today held talks on the Persian Gulf with visiting Defense Secretary Richard B. Cheney in another sign of close superpower cooperation on the crisis.
The Soviet news agency Tass said Gorbachev told Cheney that he wanted to explore all possible avenues for a political solution to the gulf crisis. But he added that he remained committed to an agreement reached with President Bush last month in Helsinki in which the two leaders pledged to secure a complete Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait.
At the United Nations, meanwhile, there were indications that the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council are close to introducing a resolution against Iraq calling for it to compensate individuals or countries who have suffered as a result of its invasion of Kuwait.
The resolution, which diplomats said could be introduced within a week, would attempt to establish a commission to register people and countries who have been damaged, special correspondent Trevor Rowe reported from New York.
Gorbachev, on Tuesday, sent one of his close foreign policy advisers, Yevgeny Primakov, on a tour of Western capitals to explore the possibility of a political settlement. Primakov, who recently met with Iraqi President Saddam Hussein in Baghdad, is to fly to Washington Thursday.
Cheney later told a Soviet parliamentary committee that the Bush administration welcomed Moscow's support for U.N. Security Council resolutions seeking a complete Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait. Tass quoted him as saying that superpower cooperation had strengthened the ability of the United Nations to oppose international aggression.
U.S. and Soviet officials refused to disclose further details of Cheney's talks with Kremlin leaders on the gulf crisis. The subject is a particularly sensitive one here following a threat by Baghdad to retaliate against the more than 5,000 Soviet citizens in Iraq if the Soviet Union reveals any of Iraq's military secrets to Washington.
As the major supplier of weapons to Iraq for several decades until the invasion of Kuwait, the Soviet Union has considerable information about Iraq's military capabilities. Earlier this week, the Soviet news agency Novosti said Soviet military specialists serving in Iraq may have forewarned the Soviet Defense Ministry about the invasion of Kuwait, but the information was not passed on to Kremlin leaders.
At his meeting with Cheney, Gorbachev reiterated Soviet calls for a comprehensive Middle East peace settlement which, he said, had been underlined by recent "bloody events," an apparent reference to the killing of at least 19 Palestinian protesters in Jerusalem by Israeli security forces.
Cheney congratulated Gorbachev on being awarded the 1990 Nobel peace prize. Gorbachev replied jokingly that he was pleased to hear such congratulations from a U.S. secretary of defense.
"It is really amazing that we have made such a norm of such visits by our defense ministers, our chiefs of staff and military contacts. This has really become something special in our relationship," the Soviet leader told Cheney.
Thursday, Cheney is to go to Tula, 150 miles south of Moscow, to watch Soviet airborne troops train. He also will visit an underground air defense command facility.
Diplomats at the United Nations said one aim of the planned resolution calling on Iraq to compensate victims was to refocus international attention on the invasion of Kuwait. They said that the recent Security Council debate on the killing of Arabs by Israeli forces had distracted attention from Iraq.
While there were suggestions that frozen Iraqi assets abroad be used to compensate victims, diplomats said, such an approach raised complicated legal issues. Instead, the wording on how to implement the resolution would be left vague, they said.
The resolution is being described as "humanitarian" in tone, and does not call for any type of war-crimes tribunal to be set up. On Tuesday, Secretary of State James A. Baker III said that "at some point" it would be appropriate to consider resolutions that spoke to the issues of reparations and of war crimes responsibility. When asked why the next resolution would not address the issue of war crimes, a U.S. official said, "Not everything comes at once. We do one thing at a time."
In Baghdad, Washington Post correspondent Edward Cody reported that Iraqi lawyers are planning what they call a Nuremberg-style war-crimes trial, with Bush as the defendant.
The tribunal, being organized to sit in Algiers in mid-December, is designed to portray the U.S.-led military buildup in the Persian Gulf and the U.N. Security Council's economic embargo against Iraq as violations of international law, according to precedents from the Nuremberg trials of Nazi war criminals after World War II, said Hamad Saleh Rawi, president of the Iraqi Bar Assocation.
Diplomats said the compensation resolution also would call on the U.N. secretary general to request permission from Iraqi authorities to resupply food and water to the foreign embassies in Kuwait.
A U.N. spokesman said Tuesday that Iraq had refused an earlier request by Kuwait's exiled ambassador to the United Nations to allow a shipment of medical supplies to his country.
The Associated Press reported:
Britain made an angry protest to Iraq over treatment of its diplomats. Its Foreign Office said Iraq had withdrawn diplomatic accreditation from eight British diplomats evacuated to Baghdad from Britain's embassy in Kuwait.
The Foreign Office summoned Iraq's ambassador to protest what it called a "flagrant disregard for international law" in withdrawing the envoys' accreditation.
"The decision not to accord them diplomatic status means they are seen as ordinary British male citizens, who are not allowed to leave," a spokesman said.