President Bush assured representatives of American Jewish organizations yesterday that a U.S.-Soviet statement on the Persian Gulf War represents no change in U.S. insistence that Iraq completely withdraw from Kuwait or in U.S. refusal to link the war to resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

"We were told that {the statement} was an expression of the long-standing position that the United States and the Soviet Union both intend to see a resolution {of the war} in accordance with United Nations resolutions," Shoshana S. Cardin, chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, said after separate meetings with Bush and Secretary of State James A. Baker III.

Cardin was referring to a statement issued Tuesday by Baker and Soviet Foreign Minister Alexander Bessmertnykh. It said the war could end if Iraq made an "unequivocal commitment" to withdraw from Kuwait, and it called for a "comprehensive settlement" of Middle East issues, implying a superpower effort to resolve the Palestinian issue.

U.S. officials said the aim was to keep the Soviet Union firmly within the anti-Iraq alliance by stating that the United States was not trying to destroy Iraq and to reassure the Soviets that they would be part of postwar diplomacy in the region.

But the circumstances under which the statement was made public -- the State Department quietly posted it in the press room just before Bush's State of the Union message -- triggered speculation that it might be engineering a policy shift. An international controversy resulted: the administration insisted no change was intended; Israel complained it had not been consulted.

Yesterday the administration continued its efforts to smother the controversy in meetings with Cardin and a delegation from her organization, which represents 46 Jewish communal and religious groups. U.S. officials noted, though, that the meetings were scheduled in early January.