AMMAN, Jordan — King Hussein of Jordan met Monday with leaders of the Palestine Liberation Organization, and there were signs that they failed to resolve their policy differences over terrorism or to agree on a joint approach to negotiations with Israel.
The king spent 2 1/2 hours with PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat and seven of Arafat's senior aides and advisers at Hussein's Nedwa Palace.
Afterward, an uncharacteristically taciturn Arafat said the talks were "constructive and successful." An Arafat spokesman said the talks are likely to be resumed today.
A spokesman for Hussein issued a statement indicating that considerable differences emerged at the meeting and suggested that the king sharply criticized the PLO's recent behavior.
Hussein has told interviewers that a series of recent developments, including the hijacking of the Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro and the cancellation of talks between a Jordanian-PLO delegation and British officials, left him "very unhappy" with the PLO and forced him to reassess his relations with the organization.
Significantly, the palace statement made no mention of the Hussein-Arafat accord of Feb. 11, in which the two announced plans to work jointly for a peace settlement, and it did not describe the PLO as the sole representative of the Palestinian people.
The statement said that, during the meeting, the king spoke of the steps he had taken "with the aim of enhancing and consolidating the principles to which Jordan is committed to reach a just and comprehensive peace. . . . "
Subtlety of Phrasing
In the subtle phrasing of such communiques, the failure to mention the PLO as supporting these principles appeared to suggest that the PLO was not committed sufficiently to the cause of peace.
"The two sides," the statement continued, "reviewed developments which took place in recent weeks and made objective assessments of these developments and their effect on joint Jordanian-Palestinian action, and ways of neutralizing them and avoiding the occurrence of such developments in the future with the appropriate rules of common action."
A Palestinian familiar with the talks said the statement was Hussein's way of warning the PLO publicly that "if you want to stay in the ball game, you have to play by the rules."
While it seemed evident that the king had privately criticized the PLO's actions in terms far stronger than those used in the communique, it was also clear that he and Arafat had not decided to abandon their efforts to arrange a negotiated settlement.
Need for More Talks
The absence of a joint statement suggested to some officials that further talks will be necessary to iron out the differences between the two. Arafat arrived in Amman on Monday.
Before the talks began, Jordanian officials took pains to indicate that Hussein still does not consider it possible to negotiate with Israel without some form of PLO participation.
"In the U.S. view, a weak PLO is dispensable completely," one Jordanian official said. "Our attitude is that a weak PLO is malleable completely. A weak PLO is a good partner for peace."
Still, the officials indicated less attachment to Arafat than to his organization, though they did not indicate how they would manage to include one without the other.
If Arafat does not make the necessary concessions to get the talks moving, one official said, "then the Palestinians would have to choose a new leader." And, he added, "no one is indispensable."
Pressure on Arafat
Richard W. Murphy, the assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern and South Asian affairs, was in Amman last week, and officials indicated that he may have asked the king to pressure Arafat to accept negotiations with Israel without PLO participation.
Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres reiterated Monday before the Knesset, the Israeli Parliament, that his government will never accept a PLO official as a negotiating partner.