Angry U.S. officials, claiming mistreatment by Swiss security officers in Geneva, will file a formal protest with the Swiss government, the White House said yesterday.

According to White House press secretary Marlin Fitzwater, State Department protocol chief Joseph V. Reed had a machine gun shoved into his stomach, White House Chief of Staff John H. Sununu was "verbally abused" and other officials and reporters were pushed and shoved as they prepared to leave Geneva late Friday.

The group was accompanying President Bush, who stopped in Geneva for four hours Friday for a meeting with Syrian President Hafez Assad before returning to Washington early yesterday.

"I must say I have never seen that kind of brutal and vicious treatment by a security force in the last 10 years," Fitzwater said.

{But Geneva police spokesman Thierry Magnin described the actions of some U.S. reporters as "deplorable" and "inadmissible."}

Confrontations with Swiss security occurred twice, once when the group arrived and again on departure. The first incident was triggered when White House officials and the press gathered under the wing of Air Force One as Bush was to descend the steps, a normal procedure. Swiss security shoved and marched the group off, saying they were not allowed so near the president, even though they all had flown with him to Geneva.

When the group prepared to depart, officials said another melee erupted, with uniformed Swiss police throwing punches and shoving to keep White House officials and news media away from Air Force One. Fitzwater said, "They pulled a machine gun on Ambassador Reed. They pulled a machine gun and stuck it into Ambassador Reed's stomach."

A Washington-based Agence France-Presse photographer, Jerome Delay, who was trying to take pictures of the scene, was grabbed and briefly detained until White House officials obtained his release. Delay was scratched and bruised in the incident. Fitzwater said the Swiss ambassador to the United States will be called to the State Department this week and an official U.S. protest will be filed.

"It's strange," said Fitzwater. "It's suppposedly a peace-loving nation but they gave us the most vicious treatment I've ever seen."

{Geneva police spokesman Magnin told Associated Press there "was a row and heated words, but this was to enforce security measures . . . taken in accord with the American security services."

{He said he could not comment on the machine gun incident. "But if it happened, the submachine gun certainly was not pointed at the diplomat," he added. He said Reed may have been mistaken for a non-diplomat because it was dark and he was wearing a trench coat that may have obscured his identifying badge.

{He said police have had long experience with dignitaries coming through Geneva and that "we don't expect to apologize because we think we acted properly to maintain security."}