MOSCOW, FEB. 13 -- A Soviet envoy who met with Iraqi President Saddam Hussein Tuesday was quoted officially today as saying that the talks had given him "cause for hope" about a diplomatic solution to the Persian Gulf War.

The envoy, Yevgeny Primakov, also reported that Iraqi Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz would come to Moscow, probably Sunday, for talks with Soviet leaders, including President Mikhail Gorbachev. It will be the first such high-level meeting between an Iraqi envoy and Gorbachev since the war began on Jan. 17.

Details of Primakov's meeting with Saddam and other Iraqi officials in Baghdad were provided to Soviet and Western reporters by presidential spokesman Vitaly Ignatenko. Primakov returned to Moscow this evening, saying at the airport that "there are rays of light that enable us to think more optimistically" about a possible cease-fire.

The only other intimation came through Ignatenko, who quoted from a telegram sent to Moscow by Primakov after his meeting with Saddam: "The character of these talks gave cause for hope."

{At the United Nations, meanwhile, Soviet Ambassador Yuli Vorontsov said any solution to the war must include a role for the Iraqis in defining the region's future security. "They need a carrot," declared Vorontsov. "They need something more -- participation in future arrangements in the area. Iraq needs to be assured that is the case. It can't be ostracized."

{Just to offer a pause in the bombing for Iraq to withdraw from Kuwait would be only "a small carrot," Vorontsov said in an interview with Washington Post special correspondent Trevor Rowe. Asked if Primakov's mission was an attempt to avoid an allied ground offensive, he responded, "In a way, yes."}

Soviet officials insist that the Kremlin remains committed to the fulfillment of United Nations resolutions that call for Iraq's full withdrawal from Kuwait. At the same time, Gorbachev is coming under political pressure from hard-liners in the Communist Party and the army to distance the Soviet Union from Washington's handling of the war, including the bombing campaign against targets in Iraq.

Baghdad radio quoted Saddam Tuesday as telling Primakov that Iraq was ready to cooperate with the Soviet Union and other nations "in the interest of finding a peaceful, political, equitable and honorable solution to the region's central issues, including the situation in the gulf." But the Iraqi leader gave no public indication that he was prepared to withdraw his forces from Kuwait.

Soviet and Western analysts here said it was still unclear whether Saddam was prepared to make significant concessions to end the war or merely wanted to explore the possibility of dividing the anti-Iraq coalition. Gorbachev has expressed unease with the magnitude of Western bombing raids against Iraq, saying there is a danger of exceeding the U.N. Security Council mandate.

In another sign that the Kremlin is eager to play the role of peacemaker, Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sabah Ahmed Sabah arrived here today for talks. A Foreign Ministry spokesman said the visit was arranged well before Aziz agreed to come to Moscow. It was not clear whether the two foreign ministers' stays would coincide.

The Kremlin's room for diplomatic maneuver between Baghdad and Washington appears limited, in view of its repeated calls for Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait. Foreign Ministry spokesman Vitaly Churkin said Moscow was not demanding any halt to military action by the U.S.-led alliance while talks were continuing with Iraq.

Churkin suggested, however, that the Security Council might provide certain guarantees to Iraq on limiting further military action provided Saddam complied with U.N. resolutions. He said that the Soviet Union wanted to discuss possible guarantees with other permanent members of the Security Council, including the United States, and would not act unilaterally.

At a news conference today, senior Soviet military commissars accused the United States of intentionally bombing civilian targets in Iraq under the guise of liberating Kuwait. Their comments provided further evidence of the unhappiness of many top Soviet officers with the Kremlin's decision to abandon its former ally in the gulf.

"Is this really a war to protect the sovereignty of Kuwait? And is it worth exterminating so many people to safeguard the sovereignty?" asked Gen. Boris Golishev, a member of the political department of the KGB security police.

On Tuesday, Gorbachev held talks with French Foreign Minister Roland Dumas and has been in touch with Iranian leaders through an emissary. A French government spokesman said that Soviet officials had described Primakov's mission to Baghdad as a final effort to persuade Saddam to leave Kuwait.

Washington Post correspondent William Drozdiak added from Paris:

Dumas said Saddam's offer to cooperate with the Soviets in finding a peaceful solution to the gulf conflict showed "nothing that leads one to think he has changed his position."

Michel Vauzelle, who heads the foreign affairs committee in the French Parliament and who saw Saddam in Baghdad in early January, said the Iraqi leader used the same kind of language with him during their meeting, which lasted more than four hours. "He sounded apparently very open to all possibilities of a peaceful way out of the crisis with special partners like France, the Soviet Union or certain Arab countries. But he also showed great determination to wage war."

Vauzelle said he believed the Primakov mission was primarily a way for the Soviets to show they were still active in the Middle East "by making a spectacular reappearance at center stage." But he doubted much would emerge "because Iraq remains obstinate and the Soviet Union cannot pull out of the coalition."