Polish President Lech Walesa was quoted Saturday as saying he would be prepared to go to Baghdad in search of a peaceful solution to the gulf war.

In an interview with the Catholic weekly Il Sabato, Walesa also called for greater public pressure to force both sides in the conflict to reach a negotiated settlement. A copy of the interview was released before publication next week."I'm ready to go to Baghdad," he said. "I have a clear duty imposed on me by winning the Nobel Peace Prize."

Walesa won the peace prize in 1983 as head of the independent trade union Solidarity.

Conceding that the current climate was unfavorable for peace talks, he said he would be willing to take a personal role if an opportunity for talks arose.

He called the war a "tragic error" that could have been avoided by addressing unresolved Middle Eastern issues.

Specifically mentioning the Palestinian problem, he said, "It wasn't right that such a serious wound went uncured and ignored for so long."

He said he believed international public opinion was providing "insufficient pressure to force the combatants to look for a peaceful solution."

Walesa arrives in Italy Monday for a three-day visit during which he is to meet Pope John Paul II. The trip will be his first to the West since being elected president in December.