BONN, DEC. 30 -- The European Community will meet in emergency session Friday to discuss a possible European effort to resolve the Persian Gulf crisis peacefully before the Jan. 15 United Nations' deadline for Iraqi forces to pull out of Kuwait.

At the request of Germany and France, the foreign ministers of the 12 EC nations will meet in Luxembourg in a last-ditch attempt to avert war, the French Foreign Ministry announced today. German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher, who has repeatedly voiced hope that the crisis could be resolved through negotiation, and French Foreign Minister Roland Dumas called for the conference because of the apparent diplomatic stalemate between Iraq and the United States.

Genscher appealed again today for a concerted diplomatic effort to avoid warfare but said Iraq must abide by U.N. resolutions calling on it to remove its troops from Kuwait.

Diplomats here expressed concern that a separate European initiative could put the EC at odds with the Bush administration, which has sought to persuade Iraq that it faces an unbending and united coalition. But the Germans said their call for a European peace effort represents no break with U.S. handling of the crisis.

The White House had no official reaction to the EC meeting, although a spokesman restated the U.S. position calling for a settlement that meets United Nations' demands. "We seek a peaceful solution," said deputy White House press secretary Stephen Hart, "and any solution has to result in compliance with the United Nations' resolutions, bringing a complete and unconditional withdrawal of Iraqi forces from Kuwait."

Although there had been rumblings in Washington of a possible EC meeting, the announcement appeared to catch the Bush administration by surprise. "It all depends on how it turns out," said one administration official. "If people are trying to settle things with partial solutions, then it's going to be a problem. We'll have to wait and see what they come up with."

{In Jordan, meanwhile, news of the EC meeting was welcomed by the Iraqi ambassador to the United States, Mohamed Mashat, who said Europe should adopt an independent approach to the gulf crisis, the Associated Press reported from Amman. "It is high time for the Europeans to enunciate their own policy and not to be subservient to the American policy," Mashat told reporters at Amman airport, where he stopped en route to Washington after consultations in Baghdad.}

German officials said today that although Europeans remain committed to the U.S.-led gulf coalition, the proximity of Europe to the Middle East gives the EC an obligation to try to prevent a war. "Time is running out," said a West European diplomat here. "If Washington and Baghdad are not talking, someone has to break the deadlock. It would not be acting in the interests of peace to just sit back and wait for war."

The European conference will take place 11 days before the United Nations' Jan. 15 deadline and on the same day as foreign ministers of Egypt, Syria and Saudi Arabia meet to discuss the crisis.

The major West European nations have been supportive of Washington's policy toward Iraq but differ with the Bush administration over its unwillingness to accept Iraq's efforts to bind the future of Kuwait to the Israeli-Palestinian issue. European Community leaders have long endorsed the idea of an international conference on a comprehensive Middle East peace, a proposal the United States has resisted.

The German call for a European initiative comes as political parties in Bonn are pushing the gulf crisis to the forefront of national debate for the first time since the Iraqi invasion. The opposition Social Democratic Party has called for a special session of Parliament to address the gulf situation, and Genscher's centrist Free Democrats, the junior partner in Chancellor Helmut Kohl's governing coalition, have argued for a separate European initiative -- a move that Kohl's Christian Democrats have avoided.Staff writer Dan Balz in Washington contributed to this report.