TEHRAN, FEB. 6 -- High-ranking Soviet and Turkish envoys conferred at length with Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati here today as purported details of Tehran's "ideas" for a diplomatic settlement of the Persian Gulf War began to emerge.
None of the three senior diplomats -- Velayati, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Kurtcebe Alptemocin and Soviet Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Belonogov -- referred publicly today to the Iranian peace proposals, but close observers here indicated that the plan is designed in general to encourage a pullout of Iraqi forces from Kuwait in return for a number of face-saving enticements, including funding for postwar Iraqi reconstruction.
Iranian President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani said Monday that the peace "ideas" had been conveyed to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, but officials here have not disclosed what response, if any, Iraq may have made.
A Soviet spokesman here described as "rather fruitful" Belonogov's talks with Velayati and later with Iran's deputy foreign minister, Mahmoud Vaezi. The spokesman said the talks revealed "a lot of points in common," such as the need for Iraq to leave Kuwait and a desire to "avoid widening the scope of the war."
In Washington, meanwhile, Secretary of State James A. Baker III said in congressional testimony that Iran's diplomatic initiatives had produced no progress so far toward persuading the Iraqis to leave Kuwait, a condition the United States has insisted upon before contemplating alternative measures to end the conflict. Baker reiterated that the United States does not seek Iranian mediation of the conflict, but he praised Iran for conducting itself "in a very, very credible way throughout this crisis" and said that it would have to be included in any future gulf security arrangements.
Iran has not presented its ideas publicly, but Western diplomats here said an account in the London-based, Kuwaiti exile newspaper, Sawt al-Kuwait, was, in the words of one diplomat, "plausible -- not a bad package." The diplomats noted that the report followed a visit to Tehran earlier this week by Kuwait's foreign minister in exile, Sheik Sabah Ahmed Sabah.
According to the newspaper, the peace process would begin with an appeal by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's spiritual leader, for a cease-fire by all belligerents. Iraq would then withdraw its troops from Kuwait, while Iran sought to persuade the forces of the U.S.-led international military coalition simultaneously to withdraw its forces from the region.
An Islamic peace force would be sent to Kuwait as a buffer between the opposing forces, the paper said, and a committee of Islamic notables would study all territorial and other disputes between Kuwait and Iraq. To repair regional war damage -- presumably in Kuwait, Iraq and Saudi Arabia -- an Islamic fund would be established for those governments to draw on. In addition, a regional non-aggression pact covering economic, political and security questions would be concluded by Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and other neighboring Arab states, with the possible later participation of Turkey and Pakistan.
Diplomats here suggested that the allied coalition would surely object to a withdrawal of its forces simultaneously with those of Iraq. They also said Kuwait almost certainly would oppose allowing its fate to bound by a decision of "Islamic notables" with the power to adjudicate its differences with Iraq.
Diplomats also questioned whether the United States, its Western allies and Iran's Arab neighbors would accept security arrangements that on paper seem to give Tehran heightened influence over the fate of a weakened Iraq, Saudi Arabia and its smaller Arab allies.
In a related development, the official Iranian news agency tonight quoted Deputy Foreign Minister Vaezi as saying he was "profoundly affected" by allied "bombing of residential areas and the massacre of civilians" in Iraq. He added that Iraqi citizens shold not be held responsible for the war and that a distinction should be drawn between them and their leader.
Such language was apparently aimed at placating the more radical sections of Iran's Islamic fundamentalists, who have criticized the government for not rushing to the defense of fellow Muslims in Iraq.