Former Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze said Wednesday he thinks the United Nations should take a role in halting the civil strife threatening to engulf the Soviet Union.

Shevardnadze, speaking at a news conference during a three-week lecture tour of the United States, said he realizes that U.N. intervention in Soviet internal affairs sounds extraordinary."I agree it would be a pretty complicated matter," he said. "There would be required some sort of agreement on the part of the world community."

But he said new methods are urgently needed to end the ethnic strife, adding that there are precedents for intervention by outside interests in Soviet affairs.

He cited the presence of Americans on Soviet soil to inspect military materiel and future visits by representatives of 22 European countries who will monitor the destruction of some conventional weapons.

"I know this will cause some intense reactions, including in my own country," he said of possible U.N. action.

He said he feels the United Nations should "have a word to say" in the settlement of domestic conflicts that could affect the security of a region.

Shevardnadze said his country is in a state of crisis.