Prospects of talks between the United States and Iraq deteriorated yesterday as Iraq announced that its foreign minister would not fly to Washington Monday as tentatively planned and that "Iraq alone" will set a date for Secretary of State James A. Baker III to visit Baghdad.

The statement drew a rejoinder from the White House and a stiff warning from European Community leaders meeting in Rome.

"Today's public announcement is just a reaffirmation of the Iraqi unwillingness to deal seriously with the issue," said White House spokesman John Herrick.

"I believe Iraq's position of putting back to a very late date . . . an exchange of views which could be very profitable, is very damaging to peace," French President Francois Mitterrand said at the European Community summit in Rome. "If there is no movement, we will reach Jan. 15 {the effective date of a U.N. Security Council resolution authorizing the use of force to expel Iraqi forces from Kuwait} and I cannot believe that Iraq is not seriously considering the fate it is risking."

The latest round of sparring over dates began with President Bush's announcement Friday that he was putting "on hold" a Monday visit to Washington by Iraqi Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz until Iraq agreed to receive Baker in Baghdad no later than Jan. 3.

Iraq's ruling Revolutionary Command Council yesterday declared that "Iraq alone has the right to fix dates for foreign officials to visit its president." A council spokesman also denied that the United States had offered 15 dates for President Saddam Hussein to meet with Baker, as Bush said Friday. The spokesman said Washington has suggested four dates: Dec. 20, 21, 22, or Jan. 3.

Iraq has been holding out for Jan. 12, a date that Bush administration officials find unacceptable because it raises the specter that Saddam would use eleventh-hour diplomacy to try to extend talks beyond the U.N. deadline, thereby undermining U.S. leverage.

On Nov. 30, when Bush first proposed face-to-face meetings in both capitals, he said any date for the Baghdad meeting before Jan. 15 would be acceptable. On Friday he acknowledged he should have been "a little more explicit" in setting a deadline earlier in January.

In Rome yesterday, leaders of the 12 European Community countries issued a statement at the conclusion of a two-day summit condemning Iraq's "inhuman and oppressive occupation" of Kuwait and warning Saddam that he alone is responsible for determining whether war can be avoided.

The statement, which called for a complete Iraqi troop withdrawal and restoration of Kuwait's sovereignty and legitimate government, came in response to an appeal from Bush for reaffirmation of support.

The European leaders also released a separate document declaring their "consternation over the persistent absence" of any solution to the Palestinian problem. They called for the U.N. to convene an international peace conference on the Middle East "at the appropriate time," and criticized Israeli practices of collective reprisals against Palestinians in the occupied territories.

The separate declarations fulfilled Bush's request to avoid any direct linkage in policy statements that might lend credence to Saddam's attempt to equate Iraqi occupation of Kuwait with Israeli control over Gaza and the West Bank.

In other gulf-related developments yesterday:

Deputy Secretary of State Lawrence S. Eagleburger said any meeting between Baker and Saddam was likely to be brief -- "five minutes to five hours" -- and reiterated that it would not constitute negotiations. "We're going to make it as clear as we can that . . . we are serious about enforcing the Security Council resolutions," Eagleburger said in a CNN interview. "Saddam Hussein will then have to make up his own mind on what he's going to do about it."

Senate Majority Leader George J. Mitchell (D-Maine), leading a delegation of six Senate Democrats on a trip to Saudi Arabia, said he hoped visits by Aziz and Baker "would occur" and would lead to "a peaceful resolution of the crisis." One member of his party, Florida Sen. Bob Graham, was less optimistic. "My sense is that the prospects of war are greater than they were two weeks ago, in large part because of the way Saddam Hussein is using the meeting as a means of manipulation rather than serious discussion," he said.

House Majority Leader Richard A. Gephardt (D-Mo.) and Rep. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) yesterday released data showing that pledges of financial support from allies in Operation Desert Shield will cover only 29 percent of the estimated $37 billion first-year cost, a figure the pair termed "woefully inadequate."

"We are putting up a red flag today," Gephardt said at a Capitol Hill news conference. "We're saying that when the administration comes here to ask for $20 billion {in supplemental appropriations for Desert Shield}, they are going to be asked some hard questions about what the allies are not only pledging to do, but actually doing."

According to the pair, Saudi Arabia has pledged $4 billion to date; Kuwait $2.5 billion; Japan $2 billion; United Arab Emirates $1 billion; Germany $1 billion and South Korea $120 million. Their list did not include contributions of Britain and France, both of which have contributed ground forces.

Gephardt and Schumer contended the promised aid has been slow in coming and that some of it has not been in a useful form. For example, they noted that 43 percent of Germany's pledge is in the form of aging East German military equipment, which will not be easily integrated into the allied military operation.

"The burdens are being shunned, not shared," Schumer said. "The rest of the world is acting as if it is doing the U.S. a favor."

Staff writers William Drozdiak in Rome and Guy Gugliotta in Saudi Arabia contributed to this report.