A state department spokesman said yesterday that reports that U.S. Ambassador to El Salvador Robert E. White had been fired were "incorrect," but acknowledged that White would not be returning to his post and had been offered another Foreign Service job.
The spokesman denied reports that White's termination in El Salvador, where he has been the ambassador since March, stemmed from policy disagreements with the new administration. He noted that White's decision last month "to go public with his own views and recommendations" -- many of them critical of possible policy shifts under President Reagan -- had "complicated the matter significantly."
Sources inside the State Department's Latin American bureau, however, observed that White, a 25-year Foreign Service veteran who also served as ambassador to Paraguay, had long been under fire from congressional conservatives as a human-rights activist who was soft on the left.
The department spokesman said yesterday that U.S. policy toward El Salvador is under review and that for now the Reagan administration would be "adhering to the commitments" made under President Carter, including stepped-up military and economic aid.
He said that White "still has a career" in the Foreign Service although he has no current assignment and will not be returning to El Salvador to make customary farewells. The spokesman said White had turned down "another senior job" in the Foreign Service. Sources close to White said he had rejected a suggestion by the office of Secretary of State Alexander M. Haig Jr. that he take a midlevel position in the inspector general's office, and had not decided whether to fight his termination.