Leaders of the two Germanys, moving quickly to take advantage of a partial break in the political clouds between them, will meet next week in East Germany for the first time in 11 years.
A Bonn spokesman today ended days of speculation about the twice-postponed summit by announcing that Chancellor Helmut Schmidt had accepted an invitation received this morning from East German chief Erich Honecker to have the talks in East Germany Dec. 11-13.
Schmidt is to see Honecker at a hunting lodge at Werbellinsee, a lake area 35 miles from Berlin. The West German leader also plans to visit the northern town of Guestrow, once capital of the duchy of Mecklenburg.
The meeting was announced at short notice to avoid raising expectations among Germans on either side of the East-West border that substantial progress on humanitarian issues may result. The Bonn spokesman, Kurt Becker, ruled out the chance of new agreements and suggested the importance of the summit was that it would provide "a broad exchange of views."
Its principal political value for both sides would seem to lie in reinforcing the European, and particularly German, aim that East-West detente be strengthened despite the chill in relations between Washington and Moscow.
Further, a meeting now of German leaders can be expected to give resonance to recent talk of a more self-assertive, patriotic Germany, restless as ever in its central place divided between the superpowers.
Schmidt's trip, anticipated for months, had to be put off twice last year because of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the upheaval in Poland. The way for the summit was finally opened during last week's visit here by Soviet President Leonid Brezhnev, who was quoted by Schmidt last weekend as indicating the Kremlin welcomed the meeting.
It will be the first such contact since then-chancellor Willy Brandt conferred with East German Prime Minister Willi Stoph in 1970 at Erfurt in East Germany and Kassel in West Germany. Leaders of the two countries met while attending the European security conference in Helsinki in 1975 and at marshal Tito's funeral in Belgrade last year.
Schmidt is likely to press for an easing of the currency exchange laws that communist East Germany raised sharply a year ago, increasing the amount of money that Western visitors must exchange each day. The action reduced the number of West Germans who travel to East Germany to see relatives and friends.
But East Germany is considered unlikely to give much ground on the currency rules, and West Germany has not attached any preconditions to the meeting. Schmidt's conservative opposition is attacking his left-center coalition government on that point.
One other bilateral issue that should figure largely in the talks -- and test the tone of relations -- involves the trade credits made available by West Germany with no interest charge. This so-called "swing" credit, now totaling up to $380 million a year, helps finance the considerable inter-German trade. It is due for renewal before the end of this month.