BEIJING, NOV. 23 -- Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze and his Chinese counterpart, Qian Qichen, today reiterated their countries' demands that Iraq withdraw from Kuwait immediately, but did not say whether they reached agreement on endorsing a possible U.N. resolution authorizing the use of force against Iraq.

Both sides "strongly appeal to Iraq and demand that it withdraw its army from Kuwait unconditionally and immediately," according to a Chinese Foreign Ministry news bulletin carried by the official New China News Agency.

The bulletin said the two sides agreed that "so far as there is still hope for a peaceful solution, the international community should continue to work to that end and try its best to avoid a war."

But, the bulletin also said, Moscow and Beijing are "willing to work for a solution to the {Persian} Gulf crisis together with other member states of the {United Nations} Security Council." It was not clear whether this was intended to indicate the two sides' willingness to support a use-of-force resolution against Iraq.

As permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, both countries have veto power over any resolutions, and are considered critical votes in the U.S.-led effort for such a resolution.

The two met for more than three hours, including 90 minutes of private talks, in the Chinese northwestern city of Urumqi, near the border with the Soviet Union. The news agency said the two ministers indicated that as permanent members of the Security Council, "China and the Soviet Union shoulder an important responsibility for safeguarding world peace."

Soviet Embassy officials said the meeting was suggested by Shevardnadze, but had no other details. Shevardnadze left for home today after his meeting with Qian.

Both the Soviet Union and China have stressed the need to seek a peaceful solution, but in the first Chinese news agency report on the meeting, Qian made no reference to a peaceful solution. Based on that omission, one Western diplomat suggested that China may be more willing to support a use-of-force resolution.

Following Qian's meeting with Secretary of State James A. Baker III two weeks ago in Cairo, U.S. officials said Qian indicated that China would not block a resolution authorizing the use of force.

The United States has privately received assurances of support from Moscow for the concept of a use-of-force resolution, even though Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev failed to issue a public endorsement of such a resolution earlier this week.