WASHINGTON -- Secretary of State James A. Baker III rejected hints by Iraq that it might settle for slices of territory and announced plans yesterday to press for U.N. action focusing new attention on "the rape of Kuwait."
"We are indeed unwilling to participate in a search for partial solutions," Mr. Baker said at a news conference, refusing any settlement that would allow President Saddam Hussein of Iraq "to claim benefits from his unprovoked aggression."
"We made this mistake in the '30s. We did not stand up for principle," he said, referring to appeasement of Hitler's aggression before the outbreak of World War II.
His comments came as Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev dispatched a top aide, Yevgeny M. Primakov, to Rome, Paris and Washington to seek a peaceful end to the Persian Gulf crisis.
The Soviet news agency Tass reported that while Mr. Primakov was in Baghdad recently, Mr. Hussein had hinted that he might be prepared to withdraw Iraqi troops from Kuwait in exchange for two islands and the Rumailah oil field, which straddles the Iraq-Kuwait border.
Mr. Baker said that he couldn't confirm the Iraqi suggestion and added that his Soviet counterpart, Eduard A. Shevardnadze, had remained "as solid as the United States" in opposing a partial solution. "I think the Soviet Union is still committed to full implementation of the [U.N.] resolutions," Mr. Baker said.
To renew its focus on Kuwait and on foreign nationals held hostage there and in Iraq, he urged the U.N. Security Council to adopt "a humanitarian resolution on the resupply of food and water and basic necessities of life to those in embassies in Kuwait, including diplomats."
A draft discussed in New York yesterday among the five permanent council members -- China, France, the Soviet Union, Britain and the United States -- expresses alarm at the plight of Kuwait and the foreigners, demands that hostages be allowed to leave and urges the secretary-general to pursue the matter.
One diplomat who has closely followed the international effort to squeeze Iraq was mystified as to why the United States was pushing this particular resolution now, questioning how it fit into a pattern of steadily increased pressure on Baghdad.
Other proposed measures under discussion include requiring reparations by Iraq -- possibly seizing assets already frozen -- and charging Iraqi officials with war crimes.
A U.S. official said the purpose of yesterday's initiative "is to continue to focus attention in more specific terms on what is actually happening" inside Kuwait, where reports of Iraqi atrocities abound. In part, he added, it's "an exercise to show Iraq we're still focused on Iraq."
For the past week, senior administration officials, as well as the Security Council, have been preoccupied with responding to the Israeli killings of Palestinians on Jerusalem's Temple Mount and sending a U.N. team to investigate.
The team's mission remained in limbo yesterday in the absence of any clear word from Jerusalem on whether it would be accepted. But U.S. officials saw signs of a softening of Israel's position and predicted the mission would merely be delayed.
Israel has been alarmed at a perceived threat to its sovereignty, particularly over mostly Arab East Jerusalem.
Friction between the United States and Israel persisted yesterday as Mr. Baker strongly indicated that plans for new Jewish housing in East Jerusalem, unveiled Monday by Housing Minister Ariel Sharon, could violate assurances made to him by Foreign Minister David Levy.