President Carter's speech last night announcing reduced grain shipments to the Soviet Union produced little public reaction today from America's European allies, most of whom are still formulating their official responses.
West German and French officials noted privately today that they cannot and will not take the same kinds of measures imposed by Carter in response to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
At the same time, however, these officials said they doubted that Bonn or Paris would be willing to supply increased quantities of those items that the United States is curtailing, such as wheat -- of which France has available supplies -- or high-technology machinery -- of which West Germany has plenty to export.
These officials were at pains to stress that no official decisions have yet been taken by their respective governments.
West Germany, in particular, does not want to believe that superpower detente is dead as a result of the last week's events, which also prompted Carter to request that the Senate postpone its consideration of the SALT II treaty.
A Bonn government spokesman said in a televeision interview today that neither East nor West could be interested in cutting all ties.
In Paris, the newspapaer Le Monde in a front-page editorial entitled "The End of Detente" noted the 1980 U.S. presidential election and that the Soviet invasion took place two months after the seizure of the American hostages in Tehran. "No moderately well-informed observer could think that Carter would not react, it said, adding that "everyone did not foresee that he would go so far."
Nevertheless, the editorial continued, the most disquieting aspect of the Soviet action is that it was taken in full knowledge that the American action would have to be strong and that detente would be ground to a halt.
In London, the British Foreign Office issued a statement welcoming Carter's moves as "a firm U.S. response to Soviet aggression" and noting that Britain was urgently consulting with other NATO allies about "measures which we and they should take."
Portugal tonight announced the recall of its ambassador in Moscow for consultations to protest the "vociferous violation of international law."
Meanwhile, Italy's powerful Communist Party sharply condemned the Soviet invasion, but also criticized the American response.
A statement released today described the Soviet intervention as "a violation of the principles of independence and national sovereignty" and expressing the Italian party's "clear dissent."
The negative reaction of the Italian party, the second largest in the country, was the strongest of any Western European Communist Party.
Today's statement also sharply criticized the American government and said it was assuming "serious responsibilities" for making a new Cold War likely by suspending consideration of SALT II and taking other retaliatory measures.
News Services also reported:
The Czechoslovak Communist Party daily Rude Pravo said the United States was trying to blackmail the Soviet Union by suspending debate on SALT II.
In Belgrade, Iraqi Foreign Minister Saadoun Hammadi and Yugoslav Foreign Minister Josip Vrhovec called on nonaligned countries to resist intervention in the Middle East and the Persian Gulf.
Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Saud Faisal welcomed the U.N. debate on developments in Afghanistan and called on Islamic nations to take a firm stand against communism and the Soviet invasion of its neighbor to the south.
Meanwhile, the Japanese government announced today it is not prepared to recognize the new Afghan administration. Japan had previously criticized Moscow's invasion of the country.