A senior West German government aide, speaking for both Chancellor Helmut Kohl and Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher, went out of his way today to emphasize that Bonn's new center-right government has no intention of changing or correcting policies toward the United States or the Soviet Union that were practiced by Kohl's predecessor, Helmut Schmidt.
Lothar Ruehl, who is serving temporarily as spokesman for the government, called correspondents here to deny a report that Kohl had passed confidential word to Secretary of State George P. Shultz of plans by the new coalition for "significant and specific efforts" that would dramatize an improvement in relations with the United States.
A syndicated column by Rowland Evans and Robert Novak in The Washington Post yesterday reported that "senior officials in the new Kohl government," going "outside diplomatic channels," had signaled Shultz to expect such new efforts. The column also spoke of "confidential word" from Kohl to Shultz that the new government would "no longer play middleman between Washington and Moscow."
"That is absolute, definite, nonsense," Ruehl declared, saying he had spoken with Kohl and Genscher, who were disturbed by the report. "There was no such ordinary, extraordinary, intra- or extra-channel, written, oral, or coded message to Shultz."
Ruehl said there have been two direct high-level U.S.-West German contacts since the new government took power last week--a meeting in New York last Tuesday between Genscher and Shultz and one here last Wednesday between Kohl and the U.S. ambassador to Bonn, Arthur Burns. In both cases, Ruehl said, the continuity of West German foreign policy was stressed to the Americans.
He said Genscher had assured Shultz that West Germany would remain an "unequivocal partner to the United States" and would "seek harmony and close consultation with Washington." But he added that there was "no cause to declare a change or a correction in German foreign policy for the better," particularly since Genscher had also been foreign minister under Schmidt and intends to carry out the same policies now as he did then.
Ruehl also said there was no truth to the Evans and Novak report that the Kohl government planned positive action on two longstanding U.S. requests: a West German payment of up to $500 million for long-delayed improvements in U.S. military installations here and resumption of military aid to Turkey for modernization of its forces.
While Ruehl did not say so, the sensitivity being shown by the new leaders in Bonn to reports forecasting early German concessions reflects concern here that U.S. expectations will be raised too high. Also, for domestic political reasons, Kohl must be careful not to appear to be tilting too unconditionally toward the United States.