West Germany is pressing the United States and other major allies to negotiate a "statement of principles" on Namibia. White short of formal constitutional measures it is hoped that the statement could still persuade South Africa to stop blocking independence for the largely black-populated territory.
The West Germany proposal, described by Foreign Ministry officials, follows approval in Rome almost three months ago of a Western plan for Namibia's independence recently put forward by Reagan administration officials. That plan called for negotiating "constitutional measures" to ensure protection for whites and other minority groups in Namibia before free elections are held there.
Following that initiative, the Organization of African Unity charged the United States with conspiring with the South Africans to circumvent U.N. efforts for Namibia's independence.
Although the initiative by Bonn may be simply one of diplomatic nuance compared to that of the Americans in Rome, it reflects more general variance between Bonn and Washington in outlook and emphasis on the Namibian problem.
At issue is how to achieve independence for the sparsely populated but mineral-rich land between South African and Angola in a way that will satisfy black African aspirations while easing South Africa's fear that the new country will come under the domination of leftist forces.
South Africa has controlled the territory since the end of World War I. The Security Council in 1978 adopted Resolution 435 calling for independence under a U.N. timetable, but South Africa has been blocking progress, saying that the United Nations is too sympathetic to the Southwest Africa People's Organization (SWAPO), which has been waging guerrilla war against South African forces in Namibia, also known as Southwest Africa.
Solution of the Namibian conflict has become a top concern of West German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher, who is said to believe that more urgent Western moves are needed on the Namibian problem to keep the confidence of other black African states and to avoid pushing SWAPO further under Soviet influence.
Manibia was once a German colony and today 30,000 of the 100,000 whites (out of the 1 million population) are of German descent.
Bonn officials stress that further delays could undercut the will of SWAPO and other black groups to compromise. Sam Nujoma, SWAPO's leader, who is regarded by South Africa as a Marxist terrorist, is seen by Bonn to have become a more independent and center-oriented leader in recent years. But, more recently, they say they have detected a nenewed "hardening" of his attitude against the West as a result of Reagan administration gestures toward South Africa.
Genscher reportedly underscored is sense of urgency at last week's seven-nation Ottawa summit during a meeting of the foreign ministers of the five countries that have been acting as the "contact group" on Namibia.
The other nations involved in the 4-year-old diplomatic effort are the United States, Britain, France and Canada. Senior officials from the five are scheduled to meet again Thursday in Paris.
Bonn Foreign Ministry officials remain vague about what the statement might say. They describe it as a "partly legal, partly political" document that, drawing on such international standards as the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights, would pledge the principle of nondiscrimination as well as provide guarantees of a multiparty system, independent judiciary and other constitutional safeguards of minority rights.
To be effective, Bonn officials say, the statement would have to satisfy both South Africa and the black African states whose concern is that the transition plan not become a ruse to install a pro-South African government. Nujoma has said his organization would not oppose the guarantee of minority rights in Namibia, but warned against Western powers seeking to prescribe a constitution for the territory as was done in Zimbabwe.
Bonn officialssay the Zimbabwean model cannot apply to Namibia because it lacks the constitutional reference point offered by Zimbabwe's status as a former British colony.
The U.N. settlement plan for Namibia calls for a cease-fire, to be by the election of an assembly that would write a constitution leading to independence. While Bonn insists there is no alternative to this general approach, the West German government remains willings to consider additional elements for to the already elaborate plan.
Bonn's concern that the Reagan administration would divorce itself from the standing U.N. plan was allayed at last weekhs meeting, but Bonn officials still worry that Washington may not move fast enough and earnestly enough to bring the South Africans around.