Defense Secretary Caspar W. Weinberger said yesterday that he has received assurances from visiting West German Defense Minister Hans Apel that Bonn would increase, rather than reduce, its defense spending.
In a joint statement issued by the two officials after a meeting at the Pentagon, Weinberger expressed appreciation for Bonn's past defense contributions and for what he called Apel's "indication that, contrary to erroneous reports, the level of German defense spending will increase."
It is not clear what Weinberger meant by "erroneous reports," since Apel earlier this month announced a series of cutbacks and delays in several longterm military projects, citing escalating costs that had confronted the Bonn ministry with "enormous difficulties."
Apel did not indicate that Bonn's immediate defense budget would shrink. Indeed, he reported that more money would be needed just to meet plans for the next few years.
There was also no indication in yesterday's statement that Bonn had restored any of the longterm projects previously cut or delayed.
Nevertheless, Apel's assurances appeared to please Pentagon officials, even though West German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher had given similar assurances here earlier this month.
The defense minister of the Netherlands, Pieter B.R. de Geus, also met yesterday with Weinberger and with national security affairs adviser Richard V. Allen.
Allen's speech last weekend about growing pacifism in Western Europe reportedly riled some U.S. allies and State Department officials. But in De Geus, Allen found someone who seemed to agree with him.
"In a way," De Geus said at a press conference when asked about Allen's remarks, "I can agree that there is an undercurrent in Europe of people that have this kind of idea."
Pointing out that the May election in the Netherlands is providing a climate for such thoughts, De Geus said, "You can hear it now in my country." So, he said, Allen's view is correct.
Asked if Allen was wise to voice it, De Geus said, "It's okay among good friends to say what is on your mind."