LOS ANGELES -- Strong signs emerged yesterday that Secretary of State James A. Baker III, after a remarkable diplomatic odyssey that ended in Los Angeles, will present a U.S. resolution authorizing use of force against Iraq to the United Nations Security Council this week, probably Thursday.
Despite noncommittal stands by two nations he consulted yesterday -- Colombians in Bogota and Malaysians at Los Angeles International Airport -- the Bush administration is confident that the measure will receive at least the necessary nine votes in the 15-nation council.
By unofficial tabulation, seven members of the council appear committed to vote for the resolution, and the five permanent member nations -- the Soviet Union, China, Britain, France and the United States -- are likely to support it as well. The remaining three -- Cuba, Yemen and Malaysia -- are expected either to vote against it or to abstain.
Mr. Baker has covered five continents in five grueling days in search of support for the resolution, which would authorize a 25-nation coalition with military forces in the Persian Gulf region to use them to implement the 10 U.N. resolutions that demand Iraq's withdrawal from Kuwait.
From the sophisticated hotels of Paris last Tuesday to the parched lands of Yemen on Thanksgiving to the verdant heights of Colombia yesterday, Mr. Baker has argued in person to all but one of the Security Council members that Iraq's aggression against the smaller country must be reversed with force if peaceful diplomatic means continue to show no results. Only Cuba was not consulted on the new resolution.
Cuba has been the only council member to vote against any resolution so far. It did so only once, and it abstained on four other measures. Yemen, the only Arab nation on the council, has abstained five times. All other members have voted for all the resolutions.
Virtually all nations consulted by Mr. Baker have emphasized their preference for a peaceful solution to the gulf crisis, as has Mr. Baker himself in presenting the U.S. view. His remarks at a news conference in Bogota reflected the case he has been making throughout.
"We strongly prefer a peaceful and political resolution of this crisis," he declared. "But perhaps the best way to achieve it is for us not to rule out the option of force. It may be the only thing [Iraqi President] Saddam Hussein understands . . . and if it [force] is to be a credible option, we must lay the appropriate military and political foundations for it," both through a buildup of military forces and a U.N. resolution authorizing their use.
The response of Colombian Foreign Minister Luis Fernando Jaramillo was also typical of the stand of the smaller non-permanent members of the council, including Finland and Ivory Coast, which have not openly committed themselves to the U.S. case so far but which seem inclined to do so.
"Colombia really stands for peaceful solutions of conflicts," Mr. Jaramillo said. "But Colombia cannot accept the fact that, through force, a party has violated international order."
The Soviet Union, after an all-Europe summit in Paris last week, has endorsed the need of the Security Council to take up the failure of U.N. resolutions to work so far, and, as Foreign Minister Eduard A. Shevardnadze said, "to adopt new resolutions with a view to implementing all the previously passed decisions."
These words and similar ones from President Mikhail S. Gorbachev have made U.S. officials confident of Soviet support, and probably that of China as well, in the forthcoming council debate. However, the precise wording and timing of the resolution may be subject to considerable bargaining among the five permanent members as well as other members.