Saudi Arabia, in its most detailed public statement so far on the AWACS controversy, insisted today it will reject "any sharing" with regard to the sophisticated radar planes if they are sold to the Saudi Air Force.
The declaration, issued by the Foreign Ministry here, represented the Saudi version of what the Reagan administration has been describing as an agreed position of the U.S. and Saudi governments on the proposed $8.5 billion package sale submitted for congressional approval.
Vague and apparently designed for a Saudi and Arab audience, it put strikingly different emphasis on several points, notably the question of U.S. controls over the plane.
The statement appeared to have been decided in response to a State Department spokesman's account of the meeting yesterday in New York between Secretary of State Alexander M. Haig Jr. and the Saudi foreign minister, Prince Saud, in which the spokesman said "data sharing" was one of the areas of firm agreement on the sale of Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircrafts and other weaponry.
The statement is likely to complicate further Reagan administration efforts to persuade Congress, more by strong implication than actually spelling out details of the deal, that certain aspects of the AWACS package are explicitly guaranteed by the kingdom.
Each government has felt moved to respond publicly to the other's statements, to "clarify" matters at home, in ways that may ultimately undercut the other's domestic position.
The theme of national sovereignty and refusal of what the Saudi rulers regard as congressional attempts to infringe upon it underlay the position outlined in today's statement. This has been a major Saudi concern throughout the debate as congressmen have insisted on U.S. controls over security and use of the AWACS planes.
Haig reportedly told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in a closed briefing Thursday of a U.S.-Saudi "understanding" providing for an American presence on the AWACS aircraft "well into the 1990s." But many committee members said it was their impression that the agreement is nonbinding and rests on an assumption that the Saudis will need U.S. help to operate the equipment for at least that period.
Following the Haig-Saud meeting, the State Department was vague on the question of actual guarantees on the personnel issue. Its statement said that the "kingdom is requesting maintenance and training assistance, and the U.S. is willing to provide such assistance which will be necessary for the support of the system well into the 1990s."
Without mentioning training periods or U.S. personnel at all, today's Saudi statement directly acknowledged concerns of some U.S. congressmen that selling the AWACS and other equipment in the proposed sale could expose them to the danger of falling into hostile hands.
"The kingdom is fully concerned with the security and safety of the equipment in the package in particular, and defense equipment in general, and welcomes mutual understanding and cooperation in that regard it," it said.
But observers noted that this formulation fell short of an explicit guarantee that U.S. personnel would be connected with the planes into the 1990s, as demanded by congressional opponents of the AWACS sale.
Saudi officials repeatedly have rejected the idea of an explicit guarantee of a U.S. presence, saying it would undermine Saudi sovereignty. At the same time, diplomates here say the Saudi rulers would probably agree to prolong U.S. association with the planes if it were done quietly and not as part of a public agreement.
Turning to the use of information gathered by the radar planes, the ministry said Saudi Arabia "has no objection to the exchange of information that concerns the security of both countries."
The use of the word exchange and the mention that the security of both countries would be involved seemed to suggest that on some subjects, such as Israel, the Saudi leadership would feel no obligation to share intelligence with the United States. There was no elaboration on the statement from ministry officials.
Also unclear was an assertion that Saud "pointed out to his American counterpart that the kingdom does not accept any sharing with regard to these aircraft." It was not certain whether the statement was referring to concerns in Washington that Saudi Arabia might pass intelligence to other Arab countries for use against Israel, or whether it was ruling out any idea that the United States and Saudi Arabia might operate the planes jointly.
Because of the demands in Congress for joint command or crewing in the aircraft, the statement ruling out sharing was seen as a renewed refusal to accept any joint U.S. Saudi controls over the planes despite the talk in Washington of U.S. crewmen being present into the 1990s.
At the same time, Israel and its supporters in Congress have expressed fears that other Arab countries could benefit from the AWACS long-range radar to direct an attack on Israeli air bases. U.S. military experts here have dismissed the idea as impossible without several years of coordination between Saudis and their neighbors, but the ministry nevertheless could have been seeking to calm those fears. CAPTION: Picture, Prince Saud discussed $8.5 billion weapons sale with Haig Friday. UPI