Iranian President Hashemi Rafsanjani expressed dismay Saturday at alleged allied bombing of civilians in Iraq but said a key to ending the Persian Gulf war was Iraq's withdrawal from Kuwait.

Rafsanjani met with Iraqi envoy Saadoun Hamadi, a member of Baghdad's ruling Revolutionary Command Council, and then summoned his Supreme National Security Council to a meeting, according to the Islamic Republic News Agency.The council said in a statement that Iran will continue to exert efforts to end the war.

IRNA said Hamadi, who also is a deputy prime minister, handed Rafsanjani a letter from Saddam Hussein. The Iranian leader gave him a written response to carry back to Baghdad.

Contents of the messages were not disclosed in the IRNA account, monitored in Nicosia.

Rafsanjani, the agency said, told Hamadi: "It is saddening to witness the ruining of human and material resources of Muslim states in destructive wars."

He stressed that the key to a solution is an Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait, which it invaded Aug. 2.

Emphasizing Iran's neutral stand, Rafsanjani warned: "Iran will not allow the use of its airspace and territory by either of the parties to the war."

That was an apparent message to Iraq to stop sending aircraft to Iran.

The allies say about 90 Iraqi civilian aircraft and warplanes have landed in Iran. Tehran says 16 warplanes have flown into its airspace, and that 11 landed safely. Crews aboard some Iraqi vessels also have been ordered to take refuge in Iran, according to allied officials, quoting captured Iraqi sailors.

Western analysts have suggested that Iraq might have sent the aircraft to Iran for safety.