Terry Waite, the Anglican church envoy who has been seeking freedom for the American hostages in Lebanon, met with Vice President Bush yesterday but said later that he had made "no special request" for the administration to change its policy of refusing to negotiate with terrorists.
Instead, Waite, the representative of Britain's archbishop of Canterbury, said he gave Bush a "general briefing" about his efforts in Lebanon and indicated "some ways in which I felt this matter could be resolved."
He added: "I don't wish to be more specific.
"The United States always has taken a position and maintained a position that they cannot change policy as a result of terrorist activity," Waite told reporters outside the White House. "I would support that position myself . . . . I do believe there is a way forward which could bring about their eventual release without the compromise of principle."
Waite went to the White House at Bush's invitation, although the administration is known to want to keep its contacts with him as low-key as possible.
U.S. officials have said privately that they think that Waite has made contact with the captors of at least four Americans, and they have encouraged him to continue his explorations.
However, these officials also have expressed concern that Waite's propensity for attracting attention through public statements could endanger his chances for success.
They also are known to feel that Waite's mission could be damaged seriously if the captors, believed to be Moslem extremists with strong anti-American attitudes, come to regard him as a U.S. agent rather than an independent negotiator.
The captors have said several times that the Americans will be freed if Kuwait frees 17 Moslem extremists imprisoned for bombings there.
However, the United States has refused to pressure Kuwait to meet that demand, and diplomatic sources say Kuwait has refused to discuss the situation with Waite or allow him to travel there.
Waite said yesterday that he has not received a response to his request to meet with Kuwaiti officials.
He refused to discuss his plans, except to say that he plans "one or two" more meetings here before returning to New York, where he began his U.S. visit Monday by conferring with the hostages' families.