President Reagan and King Hussein of Jordan ended two days of talks yesterday, with the two agreed on the need for continued close security cooperation but divided about the best way to pursue resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict.
After their final White House meeting, they indicated that, despite the possibility of Jordan's buying weapons from Russia, Hussein does not intend to change his traditional orientation toward the West or abandon his reliance on the United States as Jordan's principal arms supplier.
"The security and well-being of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is a matter of historic and enduring concern for the United States," Reagan said. He did not elaborate, but U.S. sources said the president and Hussein had agreed on increased military cooperation that is expected to result in new supplies of American weaponry to bolster Jordan's air defenses against threats from Syria.
The two were even less specific in their public comments about the best road to follow in seeking Middle East peace. As expected, Hussein made clear that he is not ready to join or endorse the U.S.-sponsored Camp David process, and Reagan, who last week triggered a major new controversy with Israel through his comments on a Saudi Arabian peace plan, was especially circumspect in his remarks.
On Monday, Hussein characterized the Saudi plan as being in general agreement with Jordan's views, and called it "worthy of consideration." But when reporters asked Reagan if the king had persuaded him to support the Saudi proposals, the president said, "No."
Since Monday, the administration has been trying to calm Israeli concerns that Reagan's praise for the plan proposed in August by Saudi Prince Fahd signals a U.S. shift away from support of the Camp David agreements.
In an effort to reassure Israel and clarify the main tenets of its Mideast policy, the administration today plans to use a previously scheduled State Department program for a group of New York Jewish leaders to deliver its message.
The group is scheduled to have a morning meeting with presidential counselor Edwin Meese III, national security affairs adviser Richard V. Allen and Michael J. Horowitz, special counsel of the Office of Management and Budget.
In the afternoon, the group will have question-and-answer sessions with Secretary of State Alexander M. Haig Jr. and Gen. David C. Jones, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Administration sources said these officials will try to make clear that no lessening of support for Israel is implied by the recent controversy over the sale of Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) radar planes to Saudi Arabia or that statements about Fahd's plan point to any U.S. deviation from the Camp David accords.
These agreements, worked out by former president Carter, Egypt's late president Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, were the basis for the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty and the current negotiations between those two countries on an interim self-rule plan for the Palestinian inhabitants of Israeli-occupied territories.
Although other Arab states such as Jordan and Saudi Arabia have kept aloof from the Camp David process, the participants view it as the framework for future negotiations between Israel and the Arab world to settle their differences on such issues as the future status of Jerusalem and other occupied territories and Arab acceptance of Israel's right to exist.
The Saudi plan, while it makes reference to the right of states in the Mideast to exist, says that any Mideast peace must include Israeli withdrawal from all occupied territories, including Jerusalem, establishment of a Palestinian state out of these territories, the right of all Palestinians to return to their homeland in what is now Israel and the removal of Israeli settlements from the occupied territories.