American policy in the Middle East has shifted to a three-stage plan supporting country-by-country peace accords as a means of achieving an Arab-Israeli settlement national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski said yesterday.

Previous U.S. policy was centered on working with the Soviet Union in conjuction with Arabs and Israelis at a new Geneva conference to attain a middle East peace.

But Brzezinski suggested yesterday on "Issues and Answers" (ABC, WJLA) that Geneva negotiations could constitute the last of the three steps on the way to a peace agreement.

"I used the analogy of three concentric circles," Brzezinski said.

"The first circle right now involves the Israelis and the Egyptians talking together directly and the United States being there because they want us to be there . . .

"The second outer concentric circle involves the moderate Arabs . . .And then there is the outer concentric circle which involves the Soviet Union [and the more radical Arab groups] . . . and that clearly is Geneva," Brzezinski said.

Brzezinski statements confirmed a Washington Post story yesterday that said the United States was moving to the new three stage policy as a result of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat's surprise visit to Israel last month.

Brzezinski's comments also seemed to confirm that the Carter administration has, for the moment abandoned hope of moving in tandem with the Soviet Union toward a peace agreement.

Sadat's visit is widely said to have overtaken American and Soviet strategies in the Middle East by engaging Egypt and Israeli in direct peace negotiations.

At Sadat's invitation Egyptian. Israeli and U.S. officials are scheduled to meet in Cairo this week to begin peace talks. Other Arab states and the Soviet Union have refused to attend the "pre-Geneva conference" which appears to be taking on as much if not more important as the larger meeting.

Brzezinski said yesterday that the United States has encouraged Israeli and Egyptian leaders to talk directly to one another, if that would facilitate a move toward peace.