Chancellor Helmut Schmidt, recently back from a visit to the United States, today lodged a renewed plea for Washington and Moscow to continue arms control talks, a goal he said was shared by Ronald Reagan.
Schmidt, who met briefly with Reagan on Friday in Washington, was the first foreign government chief to see the president-elect. The session reportedly left a positive impression on the West German leader, dispelling preelection fears and providing assurances that Reagan would honor his stated intention of consulting with European allies.
The chancellor had come to Washington after quickly backpedaling on West German plans to cut defense spending, promising anew to increase military outlays by a real 3 percent -- next year.
Schmidt repeated the pledge today. But in a wide-ranging message to the Bundestag, or parliament, outlining the policy of his government's new four-year term, he took a more unsettled view of the rest of the world and a mixed view of West Germany's own rocky economic prospects.
Under the slogan "courage for the future," Schmidt advised West Germans that they would have to make do for awhile with more difficult East-West relations abroad and, at home, less oil, more nuclear power, higher taxes and a limited increase in government spending.
Offering no surprises, the chancellor indicated that the reelection of Bonn's Social Democratic-Free Democratic coalition in October with a strengthened parliamentary majority would mean little change in basic foreign and domestic policy.
At the same time, he appeared to signal to other foreign powers that his country might seek a lower world political profile and be less financially generous than in the recent past.
"We must live up to our increased share of responsibility," Schmidt said. "But we do not want to make our role too important, or let others read too much into it, so that we do not create expectations that we cannot fulfill later on.
The message also reflected new complications for Bonn as a result of deteriorating East-West relations and economic lumps.
After months of trying to shield its relations with East Germany and other Soviet Bloc states from the political fallout of Moscow's intervention in Afghanistan, tensions finally spilled over into Bonn's lap with East Berlin's decision last month to increase currency exchange requirements for Western visitors.
Schmidt termed the move a "heavy setback for all Germans." He also deplored recent curbs on West German journalists in East Germany and on cultural exchanges but said he had no plans to abandon his policy of seeking greater cooperation with the communist states "for there is in reality no other way."
"I appeal to all Germans to show the steadfastness and patience we need to cover the current, particularly difficult stretch of road before us," he said.
On relations with the Soviet Union, the chancellor once again condemned Moscow's intervention in Afghanistan but stated Bonn's continued interest in strengthening existing treaties with the Soviets.
With special reference to Poland, Schmidt said he was watching events there with "attention and sympathy" and rejected communist allegations of interference. West German banks provided the equivalent of $630 million credit for Poland earlier this year and Bonn has actively encouraged other Western governments to meet Polish aid requests.