U.S. presidential hopeful John Anderson, arriving in Europe today, stood at the Berlin Wall, called it "hideous," and then endorsed a continuation of detente with Soviet Union.
His brief message appeared intended to sound a balanced note on East-West relations -- a position sure to please the West German government, which has been determined to preserve its Kremlin ties while condemning the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Anderson's moderate view seemed to contrast with the harder anti-Soviet line taken by Republican presidential candidate Ronald Reagan and by some aides to President Carter.
Anderson is scheduled to meet Monday with Chancellor Helmut Schmidt and other West German leaders who agreed to see him because they have an interest in probing the Illinois Republican congressman's views and his reading of the American public mood on a number of issues.
His arrival in Europe comes at a low point in transatlantic relations, the result of a lack of confidence in American leadership felt by many Europeans combined with a resurgent sense of European independence. Many Europeans also share the distress of many Americans over the available presidential choices, viewing Carter with dismay but fearing a Reagan presidency.
In Europe, where he is regarded largely as a curiosity, Anderson, who is running as an independent, is not likely to draw crowds. His motorcade today moved through Berlin's streets without much notice.
As a Foreign Service officer, Anderson had served in West Berlin in the early 1950s, and he termed today's ride as a "sentimental journey" using the occasion to visit the St. Annen Church, where he married in 1953, and to stop at the home in which his oldest daughter was born.
After meeting with U.S. officials and Berlin Mayor Dietrich Stobbe, Anderson drove to the concrete and stone wall which had divided this city for 19 years. There, he mounted a platform to peer over into the Communist eastern sector.
He termed the barrier "the most visible measure of discord between East and West" and said "the challenge it shouts is heard in many lands, and now resounds most loudly in Afghanistan."
But in reference both to past U.S. and European efforts to detente, Anderson said "skillful political leadership has made [the wall] more porous." He praised by name former chancellor Willy Brandt and Schmidt, saying they "have shown great vision."