CAIRO, NOV. 6 -- Chinese Foreign Minister Qian Qichen indicated today that China would not block a resolution in the United Nations Security Council authorizing the use of force against Iraq, U.S. officials said after Qian met with Secretary of State James A. Baker III.

China is one of the five permanent members of the Security Council and could veto such a resolution, killing any chance that it could be used to bring pressure on Iraq. But the foreign minister suggested that China, which is seeking to improve its relations with the West, would not stand in the way of such a measure if intended as a tactic in the campaign against Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

In a brief comment to reporters as he sat down with Baker at the airport here, Qian said, "I think all the resolutions adopted by the United Nations are intended to increase the pressure on Iraq so as to achieve a peaceful settlement." Asked if authorizing the use of force in advance would increase the pressure for a peaceful resolution, Qian replied, "All of the armed forces have two roles to play. One is to fight a war. The other is to seek peace."

Although his remark was cryptic, a senior U.S. official said after the 90-minute meeting that Qian had not threatened to block such a resolution. "He didn't rule it out, did he?" the official asked pointedly. Other Chinese diplomats have said China might support the resolution or at least abstain in a Security Council vote so as not to antagonize the United States and other nations seeking to force Iraq out of Kuwait.

A State Department official traveling with Baker said the two foreign ministers also discussed diplomatic efforts to end the decade-long civil war in Cambodia and Sino-American bilateral issues. The official did not mention any discussion of human rights in China or last year's massacre of pro-democracy demonstrators. Chinese officials have said they are interested in cooperating with the United States in the campaign against Saddam because they believe it will lead to further economic integration with the West and an end to the sanctions imposed against China after the Tiananmen Square crackdown.

Senior U.S. officials have said this week that they are studying a number of other, more immediate actions the United Nations could take this month, while the United States is serving as president of the Security Council, to intensify the pressure on Saddam. These include the idea of sending an unarmed United Nations vessel or convoy to Kuwait to resupply the American and British embassies. The logistics of such a mission are now being studied by the Bush administration and by U.N. officials. Baker said this week that other resolutions are also being studied, perhaps condemning Iraqi human rights violations in Kuwait and seeking to set in motion a war crimes tribunal against Saddam.

Senior U.S. officials have said a Security Council resolution authorizing the use of force would have two advantages. One is that it would make more credible the military threat against Saddam. The second is that it would add international legitimacy to any offensive strike and would give military planners the option of surprise. Baker is sounding out the other four permanent members of the Security Council on this trip about pushing such a resolution through the international body; he is scheduled to travel to Moscow on Wednesday.

To avoid a divisive argument, Baker would like to have all the Security Council members on board before actually moving ahead with such a resolution, U.S. officials said. Both France and the Soviet Union have been stressing the importance of a political solution to the crisis in recent weeks and Baker, in meetings this week, hopes to get a reading on whether they will vote for such a measure.

The United States has said it believes the authority for military action already exists in the U.N. Charter, a view echoed this morning by Saudi Arabia's foreign minister, Prince Saud Faisal. After talks with Baker, Saud said the United Nations, in calling for unconditional withdrawal, had placed no restrictions on what actions could be taken to implement the goal of liberating Kuwait.

At the United Nations, meanwhile, four Security Council members -- Malaysia, Colombia, Yemen and Cuba -- are circulating a draft resolution that would call for the simultaneous withdrawal of all foreign forces from the Persian Gulf region and authorize the United Nations to send an Arab peace-keeping force as Iraqi forces withdraw from Kuwait, special correspondent Trevor Rowe reported.

{In Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait's U.N. ambassador, Mohammed Abu Hassan, accused Jordan today of violating sanctions by trucking food into Iraq, the Associated Press reported.}

Baker also conferred today with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak about the gulf crisis, and officials said the two reaffirmed that the alliance against Saddam should not accept any compromise that rewards his aggression. Mubarak and Baker discussed improving logistical aid for Egyptian troops in Saudi Arabia, officials added.

There have been reports in British newspapers that the Bush administration might ask Mubarak for permission to use Egypt as a staging area for B-52 bombers now based on the Indian Ocean island of Diego Garcia. Baker said through a spokesman that he would not comment on military options; another U.S. official said the subject had not come up today.

Baker also gave Mubarak a letter from Bush informing him that he had signed legislation forgiving Egypt's $7.5 billion military sales debt to the United States. Bush is expected to stop in Cairo on his trip to the gulf later this month.

State Department officials said Baker also dispatched Assistant Secretary of State John H. Kelly to Damascus for talks with Syrian officials this week. Officials said the talks were to be similar to those Baker is having elsewhere on possible additional measures to isolate Saddam. Syria began this week to deploy a long-promised additional division of troops to Saudi Arabia, but Western diplomats in Damascus have noted growing discontent there with President Hafez Assad's decision to join in the buildup against Iraq.