Impromptu talks between President Bush and Egyptian Foreign Minister Esmat Abdel Meguid did not produce any "breakthrough" on the stalled Middle East peace process, but did reaffirm U.S. interest in reviving it, officials said yesterday.

Abdel Meguid met with Bush on Tuesday and with Secretary of State James A. Baker III and key advisers over the past two days, and telephoned Palestine Liberation Organization chairman Yasser Arafat yesterday, according to Egyptian diplomats.

Abdel Meguid's unexpected visit followed a telephone call from Bush to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak Saturday morning, Arab diplomats here said.

A senior administration official said the Egyptian foreign minister, accompanied by the Egyptian undersecretary of state for foreign and political affairs, Ossama Al Baz, discussed "prospects for reviving" the peace effort and "how we work together to do so." A senior Egyptian diplomat who attended the talks summed them up by saying: "We cannot say there is a breakthrough, but {there is} a common desire to overcome the obstacles."

The Egyptians came "seeking reassurance and a sense of where we are going and the nature of our communication with the new Israeli government," one source said.

Egypt is concerned that Washington "not drop the peace process," the source added. Bush decided June 20 to suspend the 18-month U.S.-PLO dialogue after Arafat did not respond to U.S. demands the PLO discipline a radical faction for a May 30 guerrilla attack on an Israeli beach.

White House spokesman Marlin Fitzwater said Bush told Abdel Meguid the United States "is committed to continuing the peace process" and awaits PLO "actions and statements that would allow us to resume a dialogue at some point in the future."

Washington initiated contacts with the PLO in Tunis and secured PLO acceptance of Palestinian negotiators from the Israeli-occupied territories to start peace talks with Israel. But the former Israeli government collapsed in protest to the proposed composition of a Palestinian delegation that would have included Palestinian deportees and figures from East Jerusalem. Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir is expected to respond in the next two days to a letter from Bush that sought Israel's position on a Palestinian delegation.

Abdel Meguid and Al Baz, one of Mubarak's close advisers, consulted with the Americans on "how to handle the PLO" in the wake of the U.S. interruption of negotiations with the group's representative in Tunis, sources said.

A senior administration official said the meetings made clear that in the U.S. view, Egypt has "not retreated" from the effort. Egypt is planning to host a summit meeting of Arab states in Cairo next November.

Officials cautioned that while the Middle East peace process should not be considered buried, Abdel Meguid's visit, which ends today, had not "broken any fresh ground." Egyptian diplomats said the visit was intended in part to "keep the wheel turning so extremists would not gloat over an atmosphere of failure."

Meanwhile, Israeli press spokeswoman Ruth Yaron said Ambassador Moshe Arad was scheduled to leave for Israel last night for consultations with newly appointed Foreign Minister David Levy, who is recuperating from a heart attack.