The U.N. Sanctions Committee is considering Iraq's request to sell nearly $1 billion worth of oil and have $1 billion of its assets unfrozen so it can finance imports of food and other necessities.

The five permanent members of the Security Council, meanwhile, were discussing a European Community proposal to replace the roughly 9,000 allied troops in northern Iraq with a U.N. police force to protect Kurdish refugees.Iraq denounced the proposal, first forwarded by the British, as a violation of its sovereignty.

Baghdad is still burdened by the crippling U.N-ordered economic boycott and says it urgently needs revenues to buy food, medical supplies, water purification equipment and other necessities.

On Monday, Iraq requested the release of $1 billion from its assets frozen in banks worldwide, Sanctions Committee Chairman Peter Hohenfellner of Austria told journalists.

Two weeks ago, Baghdad requested permission to sell $942.5 million in oil, and that request was deferred.

The sanctions committee was to discuss the requests Tuesday, but it was considered unlikely that it would swiftly agree to either Iraqi request.

The committee is comprised of all 15 nations on the Security Council, which imposed an embargo on trade with Iraq after it seized Kuwait on Aug. 2. The embargo never has applied to medical aid, and it has been eased since Iraq's defeat in the Persian Gulf War to permit entry of food and emergency supplies.

Iraq has grudgingly agreed to comply with the tough terms of the April 3 U.N. cease-fire resolution, but the trade embargo remains largely in place and Iraq is still forbidden to sell its oil to finance its reconstruction.

President Bush on Monday rejected any proposal allowing Iraq to sell its oil on the open market.

As for the issue of the U.N. police force, the major Security Council powers declined to say whether they reached broad agreement on the proposal.

Ambassadors of the United States, Britain and France later briefed Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar. The other two Security Council members with veto power are China and the Soviet Union.

U.S. Ambassador Thomas R. Pickering called the concept of civilian police "a useful idea to explore further."

No council meeting on a U.N. police force was scheduled and the secretary-general had no comment.