The head of the United Nations said military intervention against Iraq would be legitimate if its troops fail to leave Kuwait, while U.S. Secretary of State James Baker insisted that resolving the Persian Gulf crisis must include eliminating Iraq's "capacity for future aggression."

Iraq, for its part, reiterated its uncompromising stance."There is no change in Iraq's stand on current national and pan-Arab issues," an Information Ministry spokesman told Baghdad Radio Wednesday. "Kuwait became an eternal part of Iraq . . . no Iraqi official has ever said that the whole of Kuwait is not Iraqi."

Iraq also denied allegations of mistreatment of Kuwaiti citizens by Iraqi soldiers in the occupied emirate and accused the United States of presenting "obstacles to a comprehensive settlement of all outstanding issues in the Middle East."

In statements issued by the Iraqi Embassy in Washington, the Iraqi government reiterated its "resolve to seek peaceful means to effect a comprehensive solution" to all regional disputes and echoed support for French President Francois Mitterrand and "other peace-seeking arbiters."

U.N. Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar said in remarks published Wednesday in the German weekly magazine Stern that "the members of the U.N. Security Council will have to wait a little and see whether sanctions will after all show some effect."

The diplomat said if the economic sanctions do not work, military action against Iraq "would be perfectly legitimate" should the Security Council sanction such a move.

Perez de Cuellar, however, added if the United Nations managed to resolve the crisis, "we will then have to immediately make efforts concerning the Palestinian problem."

Iraqi President Saddam Hussein sought earlier in the crisis to link a pullout from the oil-rich emirate to an Israeli withdrawal from occupied Arab territories.

Kremlin diplomatic troubleshooter Yevgeny Primakov indicated a possible weakening in Iraq's resolve after meeting Saddam in Baghdad. After talks in Paris with Mitterrand Wednesday, Primakov said his country believes a peaceful solution is possible.

President Bush is scheduled to meet with Primakov. White House press secretary Marlin Fitzwater, however, said the conversations between Saddam and Primakov evidently produced "no real change" in the standoff.

The specter of full-scale war hung over a Senate hearing Wednesday as Baker insisted that resolving the Persian Gulf crisis must include eliminating Iraq's "capacity for future aggression."

Both Republican and Democratic members of the Foreign Relations Committee expressed concern Bush could order an attack on Iraq without a formal declaration of war after Congress adjourns later this month.

Baker said the administration "would expect to consult with Congress, but we don't know what's going to happen."

Only two members of the committee, Sens. Rudy Boschwitz, R-Minn., and Daniel P. Moynihan, D-N.Y., supported the administration in its insistence that consultation with congressional leaders was sufficient.

Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes, D-Md., insisted that "consultation is not enough."


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Overthrow Saddam?

Saudi Arabia's defense minister suggested in a rare interview that Iraqi troops should rise up against the rule of Saddam Hussein and "correct" the crisis in the gulf themselves. Prince Sultan Ibn Abdul Aziz, a brother of King Fahd's, told Egypt's Al Akhbar newspaper that Arab states such as Jordan and Tunisia, along with the PLO, had made a grave error.