The West European allies, in a display of uncertainty and deepening divisions, remained reluctant today to join the United States in imposing sanctions against either the Soviet Union or Poland's martial law government.
After inconclusive meetings of European Community officials here and NATO ambassadors in Brussels, the Europeans agreed only to continue consultations at a special meeting of their foreign ministers in Brussels Monday. Officials said they are likely to agree to a U.S. request for an emergency meeting next month of the 15 NATO foreign ministers, who include all those in the European Community except Ireland.
West German officials, in particular, made it clear they still disagree with Washington about the importance of the Soviet role in recent events in Poland and what should be done about it. They continued to concentrate on diplomatic efforts to influence Poland with a four-hour meeting in Bonn today between West German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher and Polish Deputy Prime Minister Mieczyslaw Rakowski.
Afterward, Genscher said he told Rakowski, the first senior Polish official to confer in the West since martial law was imposed Dec. 13, that "we expect the dialogue with the Catholic Church and with the leadership of the Solidarity union to be resumed most rapidly, that those arrested would be released and martial law lifted." Rakowski was a key figure in negotiations between the previous, civilian Polish government and Solidarity.
Asked if Rakowski responded positively, Genscher said in a West German television interview, "I think that what was said here will be heeded and evaluated. We must now wait and see what reaction the Polish leadership draws from that."
The German news agency DPA quoted reliable sources as saying Rakowski would extend his vist by one day to meet with business leaders.
Genscher added that any decisions on sanctions should be delayed until after Warsaw's response to today's meeting, which he hoped could be determined before West German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt discusses Poland with Reagan at a White House meeting next Tuesday.
Schmidt, who is now vacationing in Florida, had sent letters to Soviet President Leonid Brezhnev and the Polish leader, Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski, calling for signals that martial law would be eased and repeating Bonn's concern about outside intervention in Poland, according to West German officials.
Schmidt, when asked by CBS News about the effectiveness of the U.S. sanctions, replied: "They are pointed mainly to the address of the Soviet Union and not Poland. The Soviet Union will not collapse economically because of these sanctions, and it will certainly oppose them politically. On the other hand, these economic limitations-sanctions bring it home to the Soviet Union how earnest the anger and serious the demands are that Washington emanates."
The demands Genscher made to Rakowski are the same as those made by Reagan in his announcement yesterday of U.S. sanctions against the Soviet Union, but diplomats emphasized that West Germans and other allies disagree with Washington about the means of achieving these goals. Asked at a press conference in Bonn today about Reagan's description of the Soviet role in the military crackdown in Poland, West German government spokesman Kurt Becker said, "We do not share this view."
Becker described the sanctions announced by Reagan as "an American decision." He said he saw "no consequences" for the planned gas pipeline from Siberia to Western Europe. As part of the biggest East-West trade deal ever, a contract was signed last month for West Germany to receive natural gas through the pipeline from the Soviet Union. The pipeline eventually also would serve France, Italy, Austria, Belgium and the Netherlands.
The British government has steadily escalated its statements on Poland and has been generally supportive in its official reactions to Reagan's recent moves. But it has been silent about sanctions.
The nearest the allies moved toward President Reagan's position on Poland today was a statement by NATO Secretary General Joseph Luns after the meeting in Brussels. It warned that "the continuation of repression in Poland cannot but affect East-West relations."
In what NATO sources described as a personal statement, to which none of the ambassadors objected, Luns said, "The conduct of the Polish military authorities and the complicity of the Soviet Union are in violation of the U.N. Charter and the Helsinki" East-West agreement on human rights.
Diplomatic sources said the Reagan administration is asking the allies only to demonstrate their "solidarity" with U.S. efforts to pressure Warsaw and Moscow rather than joining or endorsing the sanctions announced by Reagan. Realizing that unanimous agreement on concerted actions may be impossible, the sources said, Washington would be satisfied with supportive moves by individual allies based on their differing national views and circumstances after consultations.
But there appeared to be no consensus among the allies about how this could be done or whether it is necessary. Diplomats in several European capitals said consultations could go on for days or weeks while the allies continued to watch for signs that the Polish military government was beginning to respond to their demand that martial law be lifted.
West German, French and British companies have won large contracts for the gas pipeline, which their governments would be reluctant to interfere with during the economic crisis in Western Europe. The Reagan administration continues to oppose the project, however, arguing it will make the Europeans overly dependent on the Soviet Union.
Unless the United States successfully increases pressure on European governments, officials and industry analysts said today, the pipeline project should not be crippled by Reagan's refusal to allow U.S. companies to provide pipelaying tractors and turbine components. This equipment could be provided by other sources.
U.S. officials have said they expect the allies to at least avoid undercutting the sanctions by not competing for work and trade taken away from U.S. companies. Diplomats in several European capitals said such assurances are being considered, along with cooperation with U.S. efforts to limit other high-technology sales to Poland or the Soviet Union.
Denying reports from Paris earlier today that the French government was not planning any sanctions against Poland or the Soviet Union but would not undermine the U.S. sanctions, spokesmen for Prime Minister Pierre Mauroy said no decision would be made for several days.
But French Foreign Minister Claude Cheysson said in Athens yesterday after talks with the new Socialist government in Greece that France would "not agree to sanction the Polish people" by cutting off food aid, as Reagan had.