Foreign Minister Alexander Bessmertnykh of the Soviet Union said Wednesday that his country will remain a strong backer of the Arabs in the Middle East peace process.

Bessmertnykh commented as he arrived in Damascus on the first stop of a Middle East tour that will include an unprecedented visit to Israel and talks with Secretary of State James A. Baker III."The Soviet Union has been and is going to be a strong supporter of the Arab cause, the supporter of the rights of Palestinians, and they believe that there should be a just settlement in the area," Bessmertnykh said in an arrival statement.

But he also said any peace settlement should be just for everyone, including Israel.

Bessmertnykh said he was eager for Friday's visit to Israel, the first such trip by a Soviet foreign minister.

"I am looking forward to having very substantial discussions with Israel," he said, speaking in Russian.

"We would like to know their current positions, and of course we shall try to press for our own vision to bring to the start of the dialogue," he said.