West German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt, apparently concerned over feelings in the United States that its European allies are not doing enough in the Afghanistan crisis, made a plea for public understanding yesterday for Germany's sensitive position between East and West.
His remarks, made with President Carter at his side, came at the White House after two leaders emerged from 2 1/2 hours of private talks that aides for both sides termed of considerable importance.
Though there was no public indication that the White House was able to pressure Schmidt into a harder public stance against Moscow on an Olympic boycott or economic sanctions, both leaders seemed anxious to make sure that their difference did not obscure the fundamental strength of the alliance.
"As an ally who owes so much to America for 35 years after the war," Schmidt said, "we stand side by side as well in the aftermath of Afghanistan," which the Soviets invaded in late December.
Schmidt said that "we try to contribute to joint policies" regarding the entrie trouble region, and "especially regarding the Soviet Union, as best we can."
But, he said, "we are in a different situation from most western countries because we are a divided nation," with "16 million East Germans living against their will on the communist side," and because of the divided city of Berlin.
Within the limits imposed by that situation, in which the Soviets can make trouble for Bonn, Schmidt said Germany contributes not only in conceptual efforts to handle the crisis but also by considerable military and financial aid to neighboring trouble spots such as Turkey, and financial aid to Pakistan, and amount that Schmidt said Bonn would double this year.
Carter expressed understanding for Germany's geographic problems which sometimes make Bonn's interests differ from those of the United States. But the president said he always turned to Schmidt for advice and counsel in moments of international concern, that the United States had constantly benefited from Schmidt's advice and that "we have never failed to have adequate support in a matter of crisis of concern to our people."
Before the meeting, senior U.S. officials said privately that White House said patience and understanding for Bonn's stance was wearing thin.
They said the administration wanted Bonn to make public before May its intention to boycott the Moscow Olympics. Bonn has said it will not announce its decision before then in order to leave time for the Soviets to withdraw from Afghanistan. The White House wants open German support earlier to help make the western stance against the Soviets more credible.
Similarly, the White House was hoping to extract some pledges from Bonn to restrict export credit guarantees on trade with the Soviet Union and perhaps to support expanding the list of strategically important goods which cannot be exported to the Soviets by Western European countries and Japan.
One White House aide called yesterday's meeting "fateful." The United States is seeking evidence that would make it clear to the Soviets that allied solidarity goes beyond words. The West Germans are fearful that 30 post war years of general calm in Central Europe and improved relations between East and West could go down the drain if Bonn is forced into actions that irreparably damage its relations with Moscow.
The meeting, and appearance of solidarity with the United States, are also seen as vital at this time for Schmidt at home, with federal elections coming up in October.
After the Schmidt-Carter meeting, administration officials told reporters that the White House was confident that when the crunch comes over the Olympics, the allies, especially West Germany, would stand with the United States, though there was no indications that Schmidt would announce that soon.
Officials said Carter did not press Schmidt for any specific economic actons, such as export credit restrictions, at their meeting. The chancellor reiterated Bonn's pledge not to do anything that would dilute the U.S. economic squeeze of Moscow, and said that business as usual with the Kremlin was not possible in the current environment.
But Schmidt, officials said, didn't go beyond this to offer more aggressive, specific German actions.
Schmidt said, and U.S. officials reportedly agreed, that it would take more time for events in Afghanistan to have an impact on European public opinion and that the United States should not conclude that the books are closed on that subject.
Last night a joint statement was issued that White House officials sought to portray as progress in getting Bonn to announce support publicly for an Olympic boycott. The communique said Carter and Schmidt "agreed that participation in the Olympic Games would be inappropriate" as long as the Soviets remain in Afghanistan.
"The chancellor emphasized that it is up to the Soviet Union to create the conditions that athletes from all countries will be able to participate in the Olympic Games, and that are present, such conditions do not exist," the statement said.