MUSCAT, Oman (AP) _ U.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen pressed ahead today in his Mideast swing to discuss possible strikes against Iraq but appeared to find little support.

Cohen arrived in Oman from Qatar where he met with the emir, Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, and Foreign Minister Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani. No details of the meeting were available.

Cohen will meet with Sultan Qaboos and other senior Omani officials before flying later today to the United Arab Emirates and Egypt.

At least publicly, there appears to be little support for any U.S. military action against Iraq.

``Can the United States imagine that there is a country, whether Arab or not, except its subservient Britain, which can say `yes' to striking Iraq?'' Egypt's Al-Akhbar, a state-owned newspaper, asked in a front page editorial.

Reflecting the feeling in the Arab world that Washington is tough on Iraq and soft on Israel, the newspaper wrote that ``the giant United States has become a lion before Iraq but an ostrich and a helpless rat before Israel.''

The United States and Britain have not ruled out military strikes on Iraq to try and force Baghdad to rescind its Saturday decision to end cooperation with U.N. weapons inspectors. The U.N. Security Council has condemned the Iraqi decision.

The United States has some 24,000 troops, an aircraft carrier and some 170 warplanes and helicopters in the Gulf region, according to the Pentagon.

It is not clear, however, whether the United States' Gulf allies would allow the use of bases on their territory.

On Tuesday, a Saudi official said King Fahd told the defense secretary that the kingdom would not be ``a springboard for attacks on Iraq.'' The official spoke on condition of anonymity.

But the Pentagon said Cohen was assured of Saudi backing in the event of military action against Iraq.

Prior stops on Cohen's trip this week included Bahrain and Kuwait.