A West German government spokesman disputed today U.S. press reports that Chancellor Helmut Schmidt and Secretary of State Alexander M. Haig Jr. had exchanged strong words at a farewell breakfast for the Bonn leader in Washington on Wednesday.
"Any speculation about a conflict or about a fight is ridiculous," said Kurt Becker, Bonn's chief spokesman, when asked at a press conference about stories Thursday in The Washington Post and Baltimore Sun. Noting that he had been present at the meeting, Becker said his impression was that the U.S.-West German conversation showed "great trust, great openness and absolutely the same goals" between the two major Western allies.
"The only thing that is true in the reports is that there was a breakfast," he quipped.
Following Schmidt's visit, West German and U.S. officials have been keen to dispel the impression built up beforehand of sharp differences among alliance members about how to approach the Polish crisis. During the visit, Schmidt joined with President Reagan in asserting Soviet "responsibility" for events in Poland, but the chancellor offered no West German commitment to complement U.S. sanctions against Moscow. It was the first time Schmidt had linked the Kremlin publicly to the Polish crackdown.
The Post reported that Schmidt, at this final session with Haig, heard "blunt talk" from the U.S. secretary about Bonn's responsibilities to the Western alliance. The Sun reported that the two men had "argued bitterly" over the respective positions of their governments, with Haig warning Schmidt that the chancellor could not afford to alienate U.S. public opinion.