The United States and West Germany claimed progress yesterday in coordinating their policies on stimulating Western Europe's economic growth, reducing risks of nuclear proliferation and dealing with Communist nations on human rights.
Two days of talks between President Carter and West German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt ended with a White House statement proclaiming "basic agreement on major issues."
The "small differences between their governments in recent months," the statement contended, "Have often been exaggerated in public acounts . . ." In the future, the statement said. Carter and Schmidt "committed themselves to be in direct touch with one another . . . to make sure that exaggeration of differences does not recur."
In fact, differences between Washington and Bonn had been expressed openly by top officials, not just by the press. The new declaration amounted to a decision to accentuate the positive, as Carter and Schmidt both did effusively in public comments yesterday.
Among the ideas explored in the Carter-Schmidt talks was a German suggestion to try to soften the consequence of any protracted delay in the American-Soviet strategic arms limitation talks (SALT) for a new nuclear arms accord. West Germany is especially sensitive about any slowdown in East-West detente, the reduction of tension.
As a consequence, Schmidt suggested that if the SALT talks are flagging, the Western powers could try to inject new life into the stalled East-West conference in Vienna on reducing armed forces in Europe. These talks are known in the West as Mutual and Balanced Force Reductions.
Schmidt told a National Press Club luncheon that "it is quite likely that in the latter course of this year new initiatives in that field" might result from his talks with Carter. The White House statement also referred to an exchange over German ideas about "how to move the negotiations forward," without relating them to the SALT talks.
Carter told reporters as Schmidt was leaving the White House that he was encouraged about assurances Schmidt gave him and Treasury Secretary Michael Blumenthal about West German's intentions for improving economical growth in Western Europe.
This is a matter of major concern for the Carter administration as West Germany strongly affects the economy of weaker allies. As expressed by Schmidt in a section of his prepared speech at the National Press Club. "In your country, it is often said that the German locomotive is not pulling fast or powerfully enough."
Carter told reporters. "We are perfectly satisfied with the plans that the Chancellor described to us and the prospects for the economy."
White House press secretary Jody Powell said the administration was encouraged to hear Schmidt say that his nation's rate of economic growth "would be in the neighborhood of 4.5 per cent in real terms for 1977," and that the West Germans will "allow their currency to move (up) with the market . . ."
Schmidt said in his luncheon speech later that "confidence is again spreading" in Europe after the London economic summit meeting in May, but "it would be better if the recovery in the Western industrial countries were more vigorous and more evenly spread."
What amount to basic built-in differences of perspective exist between Bonn and Washington. Schmidt acknowledged, on two issues: dealings with Communist nations on human rights and nuclear development.
By "agreement and sometimes by tacit understanding." Schmidt said, West Germany within the last two years has been able to get "about 70,000 Germans (his prepared speech said 65,000) formerly living in Poland, the Soviet Union" and elsewhere in Eastern Europe back to their German homeland.
Continuance of this flow of ethnic Germans is vital for his country Schmidt said.