BRUSSELS,BELGIUM — BRUSSELS, Belgium -- Secretary of State James A. Baker III continued gathering support yesterday for a United Nations Security Council resolution authorizing an eventual military strike against Iraq, at the same time reassuring coalition partners that the United States was not keen for war.
At a news conference after talks with European Commission officials, Mr. Baker said that the United States had to lay the political and military foundation for war to pressure Iraq into withdrawing from Kuwait.
"No decision to use force has been taken," Mr. Baker said, adding, however, that the United States would not rule out a military strike.
"You must lay the foundation politically and militarily for the use of force, or it would not be a credible option," he said.
In a visit to the Middle East and Europe last week, Mr. Baker met with Arab leaders and U.N. Security Council members to gauge their support for a resolution authorizing a military attack should sanctions fail to force Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein to withdraw from Kuwait.
This weekend, Mr. Baker is going from Brussels to Geneva to Paris, meeting in all with eight members of the Security Council whose support the Bush administration hopes to enlist for such a resolution.
The United States, which holds the Security Council presidency this month, would need the approval of nine of the 15 members of the council to pass the resolution but reportedly would not bring it up unless it could be assured of 11 or 12 votes.
Mr. Baker said yesterday, "The best chance for a peaceful and political settlement of this crisis is if Saddam Hussein understands very well that while we prefer strongly a peaceful and political settlement of the issue, that that other option at least is there as a credible option."
In their talks yesterday, U.S. and European Commission officials also failed to make any headway in talks on a dispute over European farm subsidies, throwing into doubt the conclusion of negotiations among 100 nations to liberalize world trade.