MOSCOW -- The Soviet Union strongly reaffirmed yesterday its accord with U.S. policy in the Persian Gulf crisis, as Foreign Minister Eduard A. Shevardnadze said military force may be required to remove Iraqi troops from Kuwait.
In a two-hour meeting with President Mikhail S. Gorbachev and more than six hours of talks with Mr. Shevardnadze, U.S. Secretary of State James A. Baker III managed to close any public gaps that may have been perceived between the Soviet and U.S. stances.
"No one should count on cracks appearing in our coordinated position," said Mr. Gorbachev, in remarks quoted by the Tass news agency, after receiving Mr. Baker at his country home outside Moscow.
Asked at a news conference whether he excluded the use of force in the gulf, Mr. Shevardnadze chose his words to avoid any conflict with Mr. Baker's statement of the U.S. position.
"Probably it is impossible to rule it out," Mr. Shevardnadze said. "A situation could arise that effectively would require such a decision."
He added that any decision on the use of force should be made by the U.N. Security Council.
"We should not doubt the ability of the Security Council to take wise and mature decisions," Mr. Shevardnadze said.
He echoed Mr. Gorbachev's warning against trying to split the two countries' positions. "I would advise against looking for some difference in the positions of the Soviet Union and the United States," he said.
The Soviet side did not actually commit itself to backing a specific Security Council resolution authorizing the use of force, the two men indicated. Mr. Baker said no decision had been expected as there were still other countries to be consulted on the question.
The allied stance of the two superpowers, unprecedented during a time of crisis in the post-World War II period, has appeared under strain at times in recent weeks. The perception of differences mainly resulted from statements by Mr. Gorbachev's gulf envoy, Yevgeny M. Primakov.
At a time when President Bush and other U.S. officials were emphasizing the intransigence of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, Mr. Primakov insisted that he saw an easing of the Iraqi leader's position.
Between his visit to Baghdad in September and a second visit Oct. 27, Mr. Primakov said again this week that there was a "big difference" in the tone of his talks with Mr. Hussein.
"In the second meeting, there was no mention [by the Iraqi leader] that Kuwait is part of Iraqi territory," Mr. Primakov told reporters at a Kremlin reception.
Yesterday's marathon talks were reported by Soviet media to underscore the unity of the United States and the Soviet Union. Soviet television shows footage of U.S. forces nightly and regularly quotes the opinion that war is likely, so Soviet backing for an ultimate use of military force would not be likely to surprise the public here.