COPENHAGEN, JUNE 6 -- Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze has assured Secretary of State James A. Baker III that his government will not halt Jewish emigration to Israel despite President Mikhail Gorbachev's threat in Washington on Sunday.

Shevardnadze gave that assurance to Baker during their two-hour meeting here Tuesday night after Baker raised U.S. concern about the meaning of Gorbachev's comments, a senior U.S. official told reporters today.

On Sunday, when Gorbachev and President Bush ended their meeting with a joint news conference, Gorbachev said he had been "bombarded" with criticism from Arab governments fearful that Israel will settle large numbers of Soviet Jews in the occupied West Bank.

Gorbachev said, "Either our concern is heeded in Israel and they will make certain conclusions or else we must give further thought to it in terms of what we do in issuing permits for visas."

The remark caused considerable concern in Israel and the United States and prompted U.S. officials to say that the Soviets had not raised the issue during the summit talks. In fact, Bush's decision to sign a controversial trade agreement with the Soviets was made partly to encourage continuation of the liberalization that has allowed thousands of Jews to leave the Soviet Union.

The senior official, who declined to be identified, said that in the Tuesday meeting Baker had told Shevardnadze that the U.S. government "was surprised and confused by Gorbachev's statement and wanted clarification." The official said Baker "made clear that any move in that direction would have very serious consequences."

According to the official, Shevardnadze explained that Gorbachev "wanted to demonstrate that {the Soviets} would like to have certain understandings from the Israelis because there's a problem as far as {the Soviets} are concerned."

However, the official continued, Shevardnadze stressed that Moscow has no intention of backing away from its liberalized emigration policy. The official said Shevardnadze assured Baker that the policy will continue and will be codified in a new law, as Gorbachev has promised.

The United States originally had tied a trade agreement and granting of most-favored-nation preferential trade status to Moscow to passage of such a law. In the end, Bush decided to sign the agreement but made clear that he would not send it to Congress until the Supreme Soviet passes the emigration bill. He also withheld for the present most-favored-nation tariff status for Soviet exports.

The official said Shevardnadze explained the delay in the emigration law by saying that the Supreme Soviet has a very full agenda and is particularly preoccupied with Gorbachev's controversial economic program.

In regard to another aspect of the Arab-Israeli dispute, the official said Baker had discussed with Shevardnadze the recent aborted attack near Tel Aviv by a radical faction of the Palestine Liberation Organization led by Abul Abbas. The official said Baker stressed that the United States does not consider the "disavowal" of the raid by PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat a sufficient response.

But the official acknowledged that the United States is not ready yet to break off its dialogue with the PLO if Arafat does not take stronger action against Abbas. Asked why the Bush administration was delaying a decision, the official said, "It's not a question of information. It's a question of sort of making a judgment -- of looking at everything we've got."

Baker and Shevardnadze have been here for the opening of a conference on human rights by the 35 countries participating in the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE).

In a speech to the conference, Baker acknowledged that the CSCE framework, which includes 33 European states plus the United States and Canada, can play an important role in the transition to democracy sweeping Eastern Europe.

But, in contrast to a growing sense in Europe that CSCE should provide the basis for a new Europe-wide security system, Baker reasserted the U.S. view that NATO should remain the principal instrument for cooperation among the Western allies.

Baker, who left here following his speech to attend a meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Scotland, said:

"NATO will continue to serve as the indispensable guarantor of peace -- and therefore the ultimate guardian of democracy and prosperity. . . . As President Bush stressed with President Gorbachev at the Washington summit, we believe NATO will remain a cornerstone of both military security and political legitimacy in the new Europe."