Key Senate Democrats urged President Bush yesterday to give economic sanctions against Iraq a chance to succeed, and a prominent House Democrat called on Bush to open talks with Iraqi President Saddam Hussein before making any decision on using force.

The signs of growing congressional restiveness over administration policy came as the Senate Armed Services Committee kicked off what is expected to be an intensive congressional review of U.S. policy before the 102nd Congress convenes in early January. Members of the committee used the occasion -- the first public hearing since Bush's Nov. 8 announcement of a buildup of U.S. forces -- to demand that Congress have a role in any decision to go to war.

Meanwhile, a U.S. push for a new United Nations resolution that would allow use of military force against Iraq received strong backing from Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, but the effort hit a stumbling block in a Palestine Liberation Organization move to force a vote first on a resolution on Palestinian rights. {Details on Page A31}.

At a breakfast meeting here with reporters, Rep. Lee H. Hamilton (Ind.), the No. 2 Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said he agreed with Bush's insistence that there be no negotiations with the Iraqis until they have complied with United Nations resolutions to withdraw their occupation forces from Kuwait.

But contending that Saddam "may very well be confused" about America's intentions, Hamilton added, "A strong argument can be made to talk to him directly or indirectly. I don't see we have a lot to lose."

Administration officials say that discussions have been taking place in Baghdad between U.S. diplomats and the Iraqi government and that there is no need for a special envoy.

The Indiana legislator has been as supportive of Bush's policy in the Persian Gulf as any Democrat, and his argument for direct talks with Iraq was viewed as a signal that Bush may come under increasing pressure from Capitol Hill to take such action before any decision to launch military operations against Iraq.

"Going to war would be extremely difficult if you have not tried every other approach," Hamilton said.

He urged that the envoy be "a person who has the president's total confidence," and he suggested that the emissary stress to the Iraqi leader that American forces have been deployed in the gulf to carry out the U.N. mandate for restoration of Kuwaiti sovereignty, "not the removal of Saddam Hussein from power or the removal of the exotic weapons" in his arsenal.

Hamilton said Americans have become "confused" by differing descriptions Bush and others have given of America's goals, and he added it is "logical to assume" that Saddam may have similar uncertainties. Such talks, he said, would not be seen as a sign that Bush was "blinking" in the showdown with Saddam and need not lead to negotiations.

Hamilton said he -- and, he believed, a majority in the House -- would oppose either a declaration of war against Iraq or a resolution authorizing Bush to take military action against the Iraqis at this time.

Opening the Armed Services Committee hearings, Chairman Sam Nunn (D-Ga.) described Bush's decision to increase U.S. forces in Saudi Arabia as a "fundamental shift" in U.S. policy and said the change raised a "number of serious questions," including whether U.S. interests would be served by military liberation of Kuwait.

"The question is not whether military action is justified," Nunn said. "It is. The question is whether military action is wise at this time and in our own national interest."

Former defense secretary and CIA director James R. Schlesinger told the panel that the policy objectives outlined by Bush in August, including an Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait and restoration of the Kuwaiti government, can be obtained with the U.N.-backed economic embargo against Iraq, but that such an outcome would take about a year.

"In effect, we can leave Iraq in isolation until it comes to its senses," Schlesinger said. "The probability of success for the sanctions is very, very high if we stick with the original objectives."

Most Democrats on the committee supported Schlesinger's view that the economic embargo should not be abandoned before it is given an opportunity to force Saddam to relinquish his hold on Kuwait. "Let's give it a chance," said Sen. John Glenn (D-Ohio). "If the embargo ends in failure, we will still have the military option."

With varying degrees of intensity, committee members also emphasized that the administration should seek the approval of Congress as well as the United Nations before launching any offensive military action against Iraq.