VATICAN CITY, JUNE 17 -- Pope John Paul II will meet here next week with Austrian President Kurt Waldheim during the controversial Austrian leader's first official trip abroad since his election a year ago, the Vatican announced today.

The Vatican statement set off an angry chorus of protest from Jewish groups because of allegations by those groups of Waldheim's involvement in Nazi-era atrocities. The U.S. Justice Department in April, after concluding that there was sufficient evidence to suspect him of involvement in Nazi persecutions, put Waldheim on a "watch list" of persons prohibited from entering the United States.

In New York, the World Jewish Congress, which has spearheaded efforts to expose the allegations about Waldheim's World War II record, called the announced meeting "a tragedy for the Vatican and a sad day for Catholic-Jewish relations.

"This is the pope who met with {Palestine Liberation Organization chairman Yasser} Arafat. This is the pope who refuses to recognize Israel. This is not the first unsavory character whom the pope has received in audience."

The Austrian president's trip here June 25, announced in a brief Vatican statement and by a spokesman in Vienna, will mark the first break in the apparent diplomatic isolation that has surrounded Waldheim since he was elected last June amid allegations that he was involved in war crimes.

There was no immediate explanation here of the factors prompting the pontiff to receive Waldheim, who will be accompanied to the Vatican by Austrian Foreign Minister Alois Mock.

Church sources here speculated that the pope invited Waldheim because the Austrian leader is Catholic and the democratically elected head of a nation with a large Catholic constituency, belongs to the church-backed People's Party in Austria and had not been convicted of any crimes.

In Vienna, Gerald Ziegler, a spokesman for Mock, called the pope's plans "very gratifying." "With this visit, things are being put in perspective," Ziegler said.

A Vatican official, noting that the pontiff had visited Austria in 1983 and would do so again in September 1988, described Waldheim's audience as part of a routine exchange of official visits, The Associated Press reported.

Although Waldheim will be making an official visit to the Vatican mini-state inside Rome, an Italian Foreign Ministry spokesman tonight said no official visit to Italy by Waldheim was scheduled.

During Waldheim's election campaign, it was alleged, by the World Jewish Congress among others, that he had participated in the deportation of Jews from Greece and was linked to Nazi atrocities against civilians in Yugoslavia.

The announcement of Waldheim's visit came a day after the Austrian government said it officially demanded that Washington remove Waldheim from the Justice Department's "watch list" and insisted that there was no evidence to back the accusations against him, Reuter reported.

The Austrian protest note complained that the United States had produced no evidence to substantiate the allegations against Waldheim and added that no country had the right to exercise jurisdiction over another nation's head of state.

The American Jewish Congress, in New York, urged the pope, "who, in the past, has shown enormous sensitivity to the sufferings of victims of Nazi brutality and oppression, to reconsider the scheduled audience since it would constitute an affront to decent people everywhere."

B'nai B'rith said in Washington that "such a visit sends a message to the world that this unrepentant sinner is welcome again to assume a mantle of statesmanship. In our view, he deserves to remain a pariah."

Waldheim also plans a visit to Jordan next month and reportedly has invitations from Uganda and Libya.

The Vatican does not have diplomatic relations with Israel. The Vatican has said it does not establish relations with nations that do not have internationally recognized borders.