Egyptian President Anwar Sadat brought his campaign for international support to Western Europe yesterday in hopes of enlisting powerful leaders such as West German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt in his efforts to pressure Israel to yield on Middle East peace settlement terms.
Schmidt, appearing briefly with Sadat in public here yesterday after an hour-long private meeting, told the Egyptian leader that the nine-nation European Economic Community (EEC) working together could play an active role in promoting a peace that "Europeans have an extraordianry interest in."
Perhaps as a caution to Sadat, however, Schmidt made clear that he opposed any "dramatic or spectacular public steps" by the European Community" or individual members in trying to bring Israel and Egypt together.
The key role, he said, remained with the United States.
Nevertheless, despite Schmidt's careful efforts to keep European policy toward Cairo and Jerusalem unified, there is growing concern, aides to Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin say privately, about the increasing official warmth between Bonn and Cairo.
The issue is made especially sensitive because of traditionally strong support for Israel within the Bonn government and because of West Germany's special relationship to the Jewish state growing out of the debris of World War II.
Despite frigid temperatures in this north German city, some of the warmth was apparent when the two men appeared on the snow-covered lawn of the Hamburg Senate guesthouse of read brief statements and answer a few questions from reporters.
Sadat praised Schmidt for "expressing deep concern over the prospects of drifting back to a state of tension and devastation . . . for always supporting the rights of the Palestinian people for self-determination and for consistently opposing the establishment of Israeli settlements in occupied Arab territories."
Schmidt was more reserved, telling Sadat how Germans had "extraordinary admiration" for his dramatic peace initiative of last fall.
Bonn also is showing its concern in other ways. The new West German budget provides Egypt with $125 million in aid annually, second only to the amount allotted to India. An extra $30 million grant for Cairo to buy locomotives from Bonn also was announced recently.
Senior Bonn officials say privately that Sadat, in effect has asked Schmidt to try and work "within a Europena framework" for a settlement, presumably one tilted toward Egypt's position, in much the same way that he has approached President Carter.
The Israeli concern is that Schmidt, as leader of the most economically powerful country in Europe, might be persuaded to press for an even more unified and perhaps tougher role by a Common Market that already had adopted official positions which Israel opposes.
The EEC, for example, in declarations in June and November, has supported peace settlement principles that include ending Israeli occupation of territory taken in the 1967 war, respect for the security and sovereignty and "consideration of the legitimate rights of the Palestinians."
The Palestinian issue is the most volatile for Israel and it is here that Bonn has gone beyond its neighbors in Europe, officially embracing the idea of "self-determination for the Palestinian people."
Although Bonn has not advocated a separate Palestinian state, its position is troublesome for Israel and is causing growing criticism linked in part to the past.
Bonn says its own special case - meaning its right to self-determination in a divided postwar Germany - is behind its viewson the Palestinian question.
Bonn says clearly seems to like Germany and feel comfortable here. He has visited and taken short vacations in this country three times in the past three years and received Schmidt in Egypt late last year.
That visit, Schmidt said, was meant "to underline the great German interest" in resolving the Arab-Israeli dispute.
Sadat's key adviser, Foreign Minister Mohammed Kamel, is also a former ambassador to West Germany.
West Germany officials say they sense no major erosion of support for Israel among the public here and generally compare hte slippage in Israeli public relations fortunes recently to the same attitude that seems to be taking hold in the United States - namely the perception that Israel is being intransigent on certain issues, such as settlements in the occupied Sinai and West Bank where many people feel they should yield.
Sadat, whose week-long swing through Eurpe began earlier today in London, will also meet with government leaders in Austria, France, Italy and Romania and with the Pope in the Vatican.