JERUSALEM — The Reagan Administration sought Monday to reassure Israeli leaders that it is not trying to blame them for the Iranian arms sales affair or to duck its own responsibility in the case, an Israeli government spokesman said.
The move came in a message from the White House to Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, said Avi Pazner, Shamir's spokesman. While Pazner refused to disclose details about the form of the message, other informed sources here said that it was delivered orally by U.S. Ambassador Thomas R. Pickering during a meeting with Shamir on Monday.
The American action came amid increasing official concern here over a series of statements and leaks over the weekend that depicted Israel as playing a much more central role than it has acknowledged in both originating and executing U.S. arms sales to Iran and the alleged diversion of funds from those sales to the Nicaraguan rebels .
A memorandum released by the White House last Friday, addressed to President Reagan by his then-national security adviser, Vice Adm. John M. Poindexter, and dated Jan. 17, 1986, referred to the Iranian initiative as "the Israeli plan."
Weekend news accounts from a still-unpublished Senate Intelligence Committee report on the affair, meanwhile, depicted Israeli officials as having suggested the contra diversion plan and of acting repeatedly to prevent the Reagan Administration from abandoning the Iranian arms sales program because of its lack of promised results.
Says It Sought to Help
Israel has maintained from the outset that whatever it did to support the Iranian initiative was done in response to a U.S. call for help. And it has repeatedly disclaimed any involvement with the contras.
Shamir repeated the Israeli denials Monday in a meeting here with American Jewish Congress leaders.
Pazner stressed that the Israeli government had not asked for any American reassurances. The White House message "was at the initiative of the Americans," he said. "We did not ask for it (but) we were very pleased, of course, to get it."
As characterized by Pazner, the White House message to Shamir said that "we should not read any negative intentions into the latest publications in Washington. There is no attempt to blame Israel or to put the blame on our door or any attempt to throw the responsibility for what happened on Israel."
In a related development, a senior official said here Monday that top Israeli leaders have assembled their own chronology of what happened in the Iranian arms affair, including "all the documents available" and written reports by the key Israeli individuals involved in coordinating and implementing the program.
The source said that there has been no formal or informal "investigation" of the incident here and that therefore none of the participants have been interrogated.
"There was no need for that," the official said. He added that the materials are for "internal use." When asked how Israel would respond to a U.S. request for access to the file, the official expressed doubt that the file would be opened but said its contents might be paraphrased for U.S. officials.
However, the official stressed, Israel has still not received any official American request for help in its probes.
The official dismissed last month's Senate Intelligence Committee inquiry as preliminary and incomplete.