MIDEAST. Thatcher shows support for peace initiative

British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher traveled to Egypt and Jordan last week to voice public support for King Hussein's faltering Middle East peace initiative. Mrs. Thatcher said in Cairo Sept. 17 that Britian favored a meeting between an American envoy and a joint Jordanian-Palestinian delegation.

The Reagan administration is reluctant to meet with a joint Jordanian-Palestinian delegation because names submitted by Hussein for the Palestinian half of the delegation include members of the Palestine Liberation Organization.

Israel has voiced strong opposition to any American meeting with the PLO. The US pledged in a secret agreement 10 years ago that it would not recognize the PLO or negotiate with it until the guerrilla group accepted United Nations Security Council resolutions 242 and 338 and Israel's right to exist.

The Jordanians, with backing from the Egyptians, have urged the US to meet with PLO representatives. The Arab world, including Egypt and Jordan, recognize the PLO as the only spokesman for the Palestinians. The seeming impasse between the US and Jordan has led to speculation in Amman that Hussein and Yasser Arafat's peace initiative may have come to an end.

But the Thatcher visit to Cairo and Amman gave a temporary morale boost to the two regimes, although some Arab diplomats in Amman complained that the Prime Minister should play a more active role in the process.

British diplomats in the region say Thatcher made it clear before her visit that she would not interfere with US efforts to bring Israel and its Arab neighbors to a peace-negotiating table. The British have said that if Thatcher meets with a joint delegation herself, such a meeting would only take place in London, and then only if it would be ``constructive.''

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