PARIS -- President Bush will probably use his visit here next week to sound out French President Francois Mitterrand on the circumstances under which France would support a military offensive to force Iraq out of Kuwait, a senior diplomatic source here said.
Mr. Bush will be in Paris with the leaders of 32 European nations and Canada for the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe.
The source said that Secretary of State James A. Baker III concluded last week's eight-nation tour without clear assurances that Paris would support a U.N. Security Council resolution authorizing the use of force against Iraq.
"There are differing opinions of how long it would take sanctions to work," Mr. Baker had said before leaving Paris Saturday. He added that there would be "continuing consultations about when sanctions have been given a sufficient period of time to work."
At a news conference yesterday, Mr. Mitterrand said the crisis was getting dangerously close to a flash point, and he again called on Iraq to withdraw from Kuwait.
"It is absolutely necessary that Iraq drop its policy of rejection if it wishes to avoid a [Security Council] resolution that would authorize intervention by force," Mr. Mitterrand said.
Mr. Mitterrand said that France continued to prefer peace to war but that peace must be accompanied by respect for law.
A senior diplomatic source here said that Mr. Mitterrand suggested in his talks with Mr. Baker that sanctions had not yet been given enough time to work and that the French leader emphasized French interests in the Arab world that could be seriously threatened by a military offensive.
The consultations are to be picked up at a higher level by Mr. Bush when he dines with President Mitterrand Sunday evening.