Vice President George Bush today praised the summit between Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres and Moroccan King Hassan II and said he would talk with Peres this week about a possible visit to Morocco during his current Middle East tour.
However, Bush advisers said they continue to doubt whether a visit by the vice president to Morocco now is necessary.
"If we can be helpful, we're willing to go," said Bush spokesman Marlin Fitzwater. He added it is "not clear where this is heading at this point in time -- I would not presume a U.S. role at this time."
Fitzwater said the prospects for such a visit by Bush are "50-50." Bush told reporters earlier in the day that such a trip would be up to other leaders in the region -- presumably Peres and Hassan. Fitzwater said diplomatic discussions were under way with the king.
In a ceremony marking his arrival for a three-day visit to Israel, Bush said Peres had shown his "dedication to peace" with the Moroccan visit.
"That mission captured the imagination of everybody in my country," he said.
During a brief courtesy call on Peres this evening, Bush said he and the prime minister would discuss a possible trip to Morocco during their meeting Wednesday.
The Peres-Hassan summit had raised hopes in some quarters for a renewed Arab-Israeli dialogue. However, the meeting also was widely condemned throughout much of the Arab world, and today Hassan resigned as chairman of the Arab League because of the protests. Critics of the meeting argue that, aside from some possible domestic political gains for Peres and foreign policy gains for Hassan in his dealings with Washington, the get-together could wind up hurting long-standing peace efforts by Jordan's King Hussein.
Bush is expected to discuss the developments later this week with Hussein and then with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
Bush also paid a brief call on Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir, who is to take over as prime minister Oct. 25. Bush vowed to continue speaking out for increased emigration of Soviet Jews to Israel. "I have done it in all my meetings with Russian leaders," he said. "You have to be strong in pushing these views with Russia."
However, President Reagan recently has taken a different tack on the subject -- using quiet diplomacy, rather than public statements, to pressure the Soviets for increased immigration.
Bush devoted his first day in Israel to visiting historic sites in a series of "photo opportunities" reminiscent of an American presidential campaign.