A top State Department official began touring West European capitals today to tell allied leaders that the United States believes Western response to the massive military crackdown in Poland should be directed not only at the Polish authorities but at the Soviet Union as well, according to diplomatic sources.
Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Lawrence Eagleburger arrived here tonight for a brief visit with West German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher, after a stop in Rome, where he met with Vatican officials and Italian Foreign Minister Emilio Colombo.
Eagleburger is expected to leave here tonight by train for a visit to NATO headquarters in Brussels Tuesday. He may also attend a meeting of the permanent representatives of the NATO council Wednesday and is expected to visit Paris and London.
American officials described Eagleburger's mission as one of providing the allies with some general ideas about sanctions and of consulting them about what kinds of action all the allies could or should take.
Eagleburger's trip to Europe comes as the White House is believed to be considering a long list of both economic and political measures that could be taken against the Polish government and the Soviet Union to show disapproval of the events in Poland.
Informed sources say Eagleburger is talking to the Europeans about the American view that allied action is required because it is now clear that the situation in Poland is the result of months of public and private Soviet pressure on the Polish authorities to smash the Solidarity movement and regain governmental and party authority.
The sources said that in the U.S. view, the alliance cannot be in a position of dealing solely with the Polish government, which is only partially responsible, and that the Soviet dimension must also be addressed.
How this message will be received in some countries, especially in West Germany, which has tended thus far not to point the finger publicly at Moscow, is a major question.
Aside from not wanting to escalate tensions with Moscow, Western Europeans express differences of opinion about how big a role Moscow played in the crackdown. Some suggest that it was primarily a Polish solution worked out by a government that saw itself gravely threatened by an increasingly confrontational trade union movement.
Among the measures reportedly under review by the Reagan administration is a suggestion to the Western alliance that all official, or government-supported, economic and food aid be suspended while allowing continuation of direct aid to the Polish people through church and private organizations. Other possible measures include a freeze in trade, a cutoff in exports to Poland and a reduction in diplomatic relations.
Officials say privately that other possible economic and political moves are under review by the United States. They did not say what those would be.
In Rome, Washington Post Correspondent Loren Jenkins reported, Eagleburger met first with Bishop Achille Silvestrini, the Vatican's equivalent of a foreign minister, then closeted himself with Colombo.
In a statement released after the meeting with the Italian foreign minister, Eagleburger said there had been "common agreement on the tragedy taking place in Poland and the repression of the Polish people." He said the West must "condemn the repression taking place" and that "this is something that European and Western workers cannot accept."
Eagelburger said a number of possible actions that might be taken against Polish authorities were discussed, but he gave no details. He also said that although the situation was grave he did not think it was "hopeless."
The Italian Foreign Ministry said one of the issues discussed was whether the West should suspend or continue its economic aid to Poland. One proposal singled out in the discussion by the Italian Foreign Ministry was a European suggestion that "controlled food aid" be continued so the Polish people will not suffer this winter while economic aid to the Polish government be suspended.