Jordan's King Hussein declared an end today to efforts to negotiate an arrangement with the Palestine Liberation Organization for Jordan to join talks about President Reagan's Middle East peace proposals.
In a stinging, 11-page statement issued here today, Hussein accused PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat of reneging on tentative agreements "in principle and in detail" that they had made in recent talks.
Giving the strong impression that he was washing his hands of the matter, Hussein said Jordan "will neither act separately nor in lieu of anybody in Middle East peace negotiations." He said it was now up to the PLO and the Palestinian people to find ways to recover land captured by Israel in the 1967 war.
The Jordanian monarch said his country had security interests in the outcome of negotiations, but he said he does not intend to break ranks and begin separate talks with Israel.
"We leave it to the PLO and the Palestinian people to choose the ways and means for the salvation of themselves and their land, and for the realization of their declared aims in the manner they see fit," Hussein said.
[Israeli television Sunday night quoted an unnamed senior official as saying that Israel could not be disappointed in Hussein's announcement since it never had expected the United States to succeed in its effort to persuade the king to enter peace talks, Washington Post correspondent Edward Walsh reported.]
Hussein's words appeared to sound the death knell for Reagan's initiative, but some optimists here said Hussein's statement might prompt a positive response from the United States or from Arafat, who flew to the Persian Gulf Tuesday and has given no date for returning. Although Hussein said the PLO leader had promised him he would be back in two days. Arafat was in North Yemen today.
But even before the long Jordanian Cabinet session, presided over by the king, that preceded the statement, PLO advisers here were doubtful that Arafat would return soon or that any agreement with Hussein would be concluded in the near future.
Laced through Hussein's statement laying out the recent history of efforts to reach an accommodation between Jordan and the PLO, there was a tone of weary exasperation.
"Jordan has . . . cautioned against letting time pass by without concluding a just and comprehensive peace settlement because time was, and still is, essential to Israel's aim of creating new facts and bringing about a fait accompli," Hussein said.
Hussein said that in the meetings he held with Arafat between March 31 and April 5, he and Arafat had discussed the problems faced by the Palestinians living under the Israeli occupation on the West Bank and Gaza Strip and had discussed "political action" for a solution that included the resolutions of the Palestine National Council--the PLO's parliament in exile--and the Reagan initiative announced Sept. 1.
Hussein said he and Arafat had "laid the final draft of our agreement" and had agreed "in principle and in detail" to a course of action "in answer to our historic responsibility to take the opportunities made available by Arab and international initiatives, and save our land and people."
Arafat, he said, wanting to discuss the agreement with PLO leaders went to Kuwait, later sending back a delegate who proposed a "new course of action" that put the discussions back where they started.
There never had been any expection here that Arafat would agree easily to an arrangement for allowing Hussein to take the lead in U.S.-sponsored negotiations for the creation of a Palestinian entity linked to Jordan as envisioned in the Reagan plan.
Hussein reportedly had been unusually tough in their private talks and reportedly had sought to pin down the PLO leader for the support the king had indicated he felt was essential to begin negotiations.
On Monday, just before they began their fourth round of discussions, an Arafat adviser waved a copy of what he described as the draft of a communique that would be signed after their fourth meeting, a working lunch. It would be released to the press later in the day, the adviser said.
[Arab and American sources who had been in touch respectively with the PLO leadership and with Jordanian leaders as recently as Friday still had the impression shortly before the Jordanian announcement was made that Hussein would accept the Reagan initiative after some final bargaining this week.]
For reasons that are still unexplained, the communique was not released. Sources here said today they believed that was because of objections raised by radical PLO executive committee members who considered it in meetings.
Those executive committee members objected strenuously that the Reagan initiative failed to recognize the PLO as the sole representative of Palestinians and did not allow for the PLO dream of an independent state.
Moderate advisers indicated later that they wanted Arafat to buck those objections, but the PLO leader in Kuwait turned the matter over to selected PLO leaders and the members of the central committee of Fatah, Arafat's primary base of support and the largest party in the PLO umbrella group.
That meeting appears to have decisively rejected any arrangement for negotiations under the Reagan plan. Instead of returning to Amman to tell Hussein that, Arafat sent emissaries here and flew off again, this time to South Yemen and later to North Yemen.
[Palestinian sources in Kuwait said Arafat was surprised at the number of PLO leaders, including some of his closest associates, who opposed the arrangement he had worked out with Hussein, Washington Post correspondent David B. Ottaway reported.]
One PLO moderate here, who was exuberant last week that an agreement with the king was near, was philosophical this morning. Reflecting sentiments that were later to appear in Hussein's statement, the adviser said that because of geographical and historic reasons, the relations between Jordan and the Palestinians could not be severed.
Comparing the relations to a strict marriage, the PLO operative said, Hussein "can't leave and we can't leave."