In the opinion of the government of the Federal Republic of Germany, the Oct. 7 piece "Bush Leaves 'Em Guessing" by Jim Hoagland is likely to convey a wrong impression of our assessment of Vice President Bush's visit to Bonn on Sept. 30. Above all, the alleged remark by a German representative cited in the story, to the effect that nothing had come of Mr. Bush's talks in Bonn, does not in any way tally with the actual course and result of his visit.
Both Chancellor Helmut Kohl and Mr. Bush's other official interlocutors had an intensive and wide-ranging exchange of views with him, which proved to be a very effective continuation of the close German-American consultation on important international issues. This applies, for example, to the various aspects of bilateral relations, the arms control process, European-American relations and assessment of the situation in the Soviet Union and Poland, as well as domestic developments in the United States.
Chancellor Kohl and I both paid tribute before the press to Vice President Bush's visit and commented at length on the subjects discussed.
for the Federal Republic of Germany
I was most surprised to read Jim Hoagland's piece on Vice President Bush's European trip. The commentary is wrong in its facts and, I strongly believe, in its judgment of the perceptions of Mr. Bush's French interlocutors of the seriousness and substance of the discussions in Europe.
The most glaring error is the charge that Mr. Bush told the Germans one thing about the U.S. position on short-range nuclear weapons and the French something quite different. In fact, the vice president made it unmistakably clear in both Bonn and Paris that the United States has no intention of negotiating short-range weapons now. After intermediate-range nuclear weapons, our next priorities in arms control are strategic, chemical and conventional arms. We checked this question carefully with the people who were involved in the visit at the U.S. Embassy in Bonn, and they have confirmed our understanding entirely. I do not understand how Mr. Hoagland could have been misled on this key issue.
Beyond this point of fact, I believe the gloss the story put on the trip is completely unfair to the vice president. As a supporter and personal friend of Mr. Bush, I cannot pretend to be a disinterested observer. Nonetheless, I came away from every meeting the vice president held here feeling that we had had detailed and productive talks on most of the issues central to the French-American relationship: from arms control and the Soviet Union to agricultural trade and protectionism, from the Persian Gulf and terrorism to African issues and New Caledonia.
I am sure this was not just my impression. Every senior French official with whom my colleagues in the embassy and I have been in touch since the visit has expressed satisfaction with the substantive nature of the meetings. Mr. Hoagland cited an unnamed French official. I have no idea what role this person might have played -- or even whether he was present at any of the discussions. I have no doubt, however, that if Mr. Hoagland had talked to more of the French participants -- and particularly if he had spoken to any of the principals -- he would have been as convinced as I am that the vice president's trip was a great success. The discussions here contributed in a very important way to the ongoing process of in-depth consultations between French and American leaders on the subjects at the core of our relationship.
JOE M. RODGERS
U.S. Ambassador to France