President Bush, praising both Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev and rival Boris Yeltsin for pressing for market changes, says he is weighing steps to expand trade with the Soviet Union.

But Bush told a group of farm broadcasters at the White House on Monday that the slowness of the troubled Soviet economy to incorporate these reforms makes it difficult. "So it's up in the air right now," he said.The president also said he faces a difficult choice in deciding whether to extend for another year most-favored-nation trade benefits for China, but he seemed to indicate he's leaning in that direction. He must make up his mind by June 3.

Bush credited his nurturing of relations with both Bei-jing and Moscow for helping to win the support needed within the United Nations for forcing Iraq from Kuwait.

That policy "paid off in spades," he said.

The president was meeting today with two bipartisan groups of lawmakers, one in the morning and the other in the afternoon.

Aides said a variety of trade issues would be discussed, including "fast-track" negotiating authority for trade agreements, like an emerging free-trade deal with Mexico.

In his first comments on Gorbachev's recent political victory, Bush told the farm broadcasters he welcomed the Soviet leader's survival of a challenge by Communist Party hard-liners.