The United States has taken steps to reassure Israel about next week's U.S.-Soviet talks on the Middle East, saying that these will not be real "negotiations" and that the problems of Soviet Jews will be brought up.
Diplomatic sources said the U.S. assurances came in a meeting late Wednesday between Israeli Ambassador Meir Rosenne and Assistant Secretary of State Richard W. Murphy, who will lead the U.S. delegation to next week's talks with the Soviet Union. The two days of discussions are to take place in Vienna.
Israel, which earlier had expressed concern about a new round of U.S.-Soviet diplomacy in the troubled region, remains lukewarm to such a meeting. Rosenne reportedly said that the "very negative role" of the Soviets in the Middle East raises questions about the meeting.
State Department spokesman Bernard Kalb told reporters yesterday that "the talks with the Soviets will not constitute negotiations nor are they intended to lead to broader negotiations." He added, "I also want to underscore that these talks are not the precursor of any agreements nor are we going to seek any agreements in Vienna."
Leaders of the American Jewish Congress who visited Secretary of State George P. Shultz and other senior State Department officials with some of the same concerns came away saying they were "quite reassured" by the official attitudes.
Howard Squadron, a past president of the AJC and one of its spokesmen, expressed continuing skepticism about the recent "framework for common action" announced Monday by King Hussein of Jordan and Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Yasser Arafat.
The "framework" agreement was termed "a milestone" by a senior White House official in California late Wednesday. "There are a lot of miles still to be traveled," said Squadron after discussing the development with Shultz. "One can describe it as a milestone, if one understands it as a 100-mile race."
The Israeli envoy, in his State Department meeting, also brought up U.S. statements during the current visit of Saudi Arabia's King Fahd that spoke positively of the Arab League's 1982 Fez declaration but failed to mention the Camp David accords or the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty.
Rosenne was told, according to diplomatic sources, that the U.S. position behind the existing accords remains unchanged.
The Saudi monarch, who met President Reagan Monday and Tuesday at the White House, is scheduled to leave for home this afternoon after a five-day visit. Fahd met yesterday with former secretary of state Cyrus R. Vance and was the guest of honor last night at a dinner hosted by Vice President Bush.