NEW YORK, JAN. 21 -- In an effort to calm wartime anxieties, the financial leaders of the world's seven major industrial nations said today that they "are prepared to respond as appropriate to maintain stability in international financial markets."

Speaking to reporters at the end of a two-day meeting of the so-called Group of Seven, Treasury Secretary Nicholas F. Brady also indicated that the political showdown in the Soviet Union occupied the financial leaders along with the Persian Gulf War.

Brady, acknowledging uncertainties stemming from the Soviet Union's political crackdown in Lithuania and Latvia, reported that the group had decided to "put on hold" earlier proposals to offer technical assistance to Moscow.

A senior Treasury official said the idea advanced last year by President Bush for a special associate status for the Soviet Union in the World Bank and International Monetary Fund had been at least temporarily shelved. "They decided not to move forward on anything," the Treasury official said.

Germany, which has been more willing all along to advance aid to the Soviet Union, did not block the stance. Earlier, German Chancellor Helmut Kohl said the Baltic states "would have been better advised to follow the politics of 100 small steps rather than wanting everything in 10 big ones."

Separate from a communique issued at the end of the G-7 meeting, Brady announced that Germany and Japan, as well as other participants in the meeting, "had completely understood" American pressure for greater sharing of the financial burdens of the gulf war, "and every one of them wants to do their share." Japan had already pledged $4 billion and Germany $3.4 billion toward the direct costs of the war and for economic aid to other affected nations in the gulf.

Brady said Japanese Finance Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto had come to New York today fully empowered to make decisions and that a Japanese announcement on greater aid is expected very soon.

A German announcement may take a bit longer because the Bonn government has not made final decisions on its proposed larger contribution. A senior Treasury official said German Finance Minister Theo Waigel asked Brady for a more specific accounting of what is expected of the Germans, "and we're perfectly willing to give them that."

The communique issued by the G-7 -- made up the United States, Britain, France, Italy, Germany, Japan and Canada -- said that "at this critical time" it was important for the world's major industrial powers to reaffirm their long-standing economic policy coordination.

Brady said markets had been calm since war erupted in the Persian Gulf, "and that's what we're striving for." The brief document issued at the end of the meeting said the ministers and central bankers would "strengthen" their cooperation and monitor exchange rate developments.

But Brady conceded that no new method of cooperation had been arranged at this meeting. The word "strengthen," he said, was meant to indicate the initiation of a policy of "open telephones."

If "there are any unusual jumps or turns in the market," Brady said, the finance ministers and central bankers who had been keeping in daily touch during the run-up to the gulf crisis "will get on the phone. And then we may decide to do something about {it}, or not to do something about it."

He said the test would be whether "there had been movement in one direction or the other out of character with the basic strength of currencies." Brady specifically denied that the enhanced monitoring of exchange rates through this "open telephone" system amounted to a return to a system of "reference rates," or ranges. However, there was apparently a detailed discussion at the G-7 meeting of the pros and cons of introducing more of a fixed relationship into the exchange-rate system.

Brady indicated that he was comfortable with the exchange rate of the dollar, which recently has turned up from record lows. He added that there are economic reasons to explain both dollar strength and dollar weakness, "and no one is smart enough to predict which way it will go."

The communique was optimistic on future economic prospects for the global economy, although it admitted that growth in all seven economies had slowed. It said that if the several governments followed sound fiscal policies and "stability-oriented monetary policies," economic activity would pick up later this year and "conditions {would be} favorable {for} lower global interest rates and a stronger world economy."

German Central Bank President Karl Otto Poehl made clear, however, that a reference to a goal of lower global interest rates did not mean that the Germans have any plan to lower their interest rates. German policy continues to favor high interest rates as an offset to the expansionary forces let loose by the soaring costs of German unification.

The question of uneven economic performance has been troubling the G-7 nations for some time, although it was referred to only in passing by the notation that growth "remains particularly strong in Germany and Japan."