AMMAN, Jordan -- Secretary of State George Shultz concludes the last full day of his five-nation, five-day Middle East peace mission today with wide differences remaining and little progress to report.
Shultz was scheduled to depart Amman today for Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, where his talks are certain to touch on the kingdom's purchase of Chinese missiles capable of striking Israel. He is to return to Amman late in the day and leave for Washington Friday.
On Wednesday, Shultz held talks with leaders in Israel, Egypt and Jordan on his Middle East peace plan. He said the plan for direct Israeli-Arab talks is 'intact and alive' but 'deep-seated obstacles' still exist.
Although the purpose of the trip to Riyadh is to seek Saudi support for the peace initiative, analysts said the kingdom's purchase of Chinese CSS2-Class surface-to-surface missiles is certain to be raised.
The missiles have a range of more than 1,000 miles and could easily strike Israel or Iran. The acquisition of the missiles became public knowledge last month.
Saudi Arabia has 'categorically assured' the United States that the missiles are non-nuclear and that it does not intend to acquire a nuclear capability.
But the Saudis refused initial U.S. requests to inspect the missiles firsthand to verify their claim.
Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir expressed his deep concern about the missiles to President Reagan when he visited Washington in mid-March and in his talks with Shultz.
The Saudis said they want the weapons because of the widespread use Iran is making of missiles in its war with Iraq. Saudi Arabia backs Iraq.
In addition, the Saudis have said they turned to China for help only after Congress repatedly rebuffed their attempts to obtain U.S. weapons such as the short-range Lance missile and F-15E fighter jets.
The Israelis were concerned that the missiles could be fitted with chemical warheads and aimed at Israel.
At the same time, Saudi Arabia was concerned that Israel might launch a pre-emptive strike against the missiles similar to the one Israel carried out on an Iraqi nuclear reactor outside Baghdad in June 1981.
Their fears were raised when a close aide to Shamir, Yosi Ben Aharon, was asked by Israel Radio on March 20 if Israel might knock out the missiles. 'The possibility always exists,' he was quoted as saying.
U.S. intelligence agencies first discovered the missiles in late January, months after the first of the weapons arrived in Saudi Arabia. The missiles, not yet operational, were reported to be based in the great Saudi desert known as the Rub El-Khali, or Empty Quarter.
The Saudis apparently tried to hide their purchase, telling American officials they were building an 'ammunition depot' in the desert.
In an interview broadcast Wednesday night on Israel Television's 'Moked' news interview program, Shultz called Jordan's King Hussein a 'man of peace' and 'a partner' in the peace process.
Earlier, Shultz appeared to be indicating that Shamir was not a 'constructive' partner such as Hussein.
A State Department official said Shultz's silence on Israel's role in the peace process spoke for itself.
Shultz said he had encountered 'deep-seated obstacles to peace,' but added 'with a serious commitment, it can happen. In all candor, I am not able to say that it is happening. While we have made some progress, differences have not been substantially narrowed.'
He said he will continue his mission and that the U.S. peace plan 'is intact and alive.'
A State Department official confirmed Wednesday night that Hussein ordered government-controlled Jordanian Television not to broadcast an interview with Shultz on Tuesday.
'It was because some of the things the secretary said were not compatible with Jordanian positions,' said the official. 'We regret that the interview didn't show.'
No formal U.S. protest was made.
In the interview with Jordanian newspaper editors, Shultz said the Reagan administration did not believe that an independent Palestinian state on the West Bank 'makes sense.'
He also reiterated that the United States would never negotiate with the Palestine Liberation Organization and said that Washington could not force Israel to make concessions or meet demands in the peace process.