West German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt and French President Francois Mitterrand indicated today that they would stress Europe's need for a more stable U.S. monetary policy when they meet with President Reagan and other Western leaders next week in Ottawa.
Ending two days of extensive talks here, the two European leaders voiced agreement on a number of other broad political and international economic concerns, while skirting around the issue of their own contrasting domestic economic policies.
It was the new French president's first state visit to Bonn and appeared intended to reaffirm the close Bonn-Paris ties, which have served as a focus point for Western European policy.
The two men gave the impression of getting off to a good, cooperative start.
"We met no obstacles on the important problems and this is a hopeful sign for the future of our relations," Mitterrand told reporters afterward. "There will also be some delicate problems still to solve but we can solve them together." Schmidt, too, said he was confident that German-French cooperation would increase in the future.
But it was also clear that the still-forming relationship between Schmidt and Mitterrand lacked the easy sense of political interplay which the West German chancellor enjoyed with Mitterrand's predecessor, the conservative Valary Giscard d'Estaing. For the time being anyway, what Europe had referred to before as the "Paris-Bonn axis" appeared to have been refitted as a spoke -- though a substantial spoke -- in European and world policy circles. a
With the Ottawa summit of the leaders of the seven major Western industrialized countries set to begin in a week. Schmidt and Mitterrand agreed that U.S. monetary policy should feature prominently in the discussion -- in particular, the price it was exacting from European countries in terms of delayed economic recovery and increased unemployment.
High and volatile U.S. interest rates have helped weaken the German mark and French franc, while raising the cost of public borrowing for European governments. These pressures are likely to prove more serious for Mitterrand than for Schmidt, since the French government, with its Socialist mandate, is preparing to launch an ambitious spending program, while Bonn is entering a period of retrenchment.
Schmidt said he and Mitterrand wanted to ensure that none of the summit countries "give way to the temptation of following egoistic national policies on trade, currencies or credit."
In what was a welcomed absence for Bonn, Mitterrand's entourage did not include any of the four Communist ministers recently appointed to the French Cabinet. But the altered tone of the new Paris administration was clear in the way Mitterrand's spokesman, Michel Vauzelle, often began his explanatory press remarks: "As a government of Socialists, we must naturally. . . " Or, "Socialastic policy demands in this case. . ."
Bonn officials particularly sought assurances from the French on the planned nationalization of French firms in which German businesses have interests. Spokesman later said that "accompanying government contacts" had been established to deal with this problem, but they did not elaborate. Among the most controversial cases is the planned takeover of Roussel-Ulcan, the French pharmaceutical company, in which the German firm Hoechst holds a 59 percent interest.