Reagan administration officials said yesterday that the West German government has been supplied with sufficient information about Libyan involvement in last Sunday's West Berlin discotheque bombing to justify political and economic measures against Libya.
In order to put the U.S. case more directly, officials said, a high-level emissary may soon travel to Bonn and other European capitals.
The officials, who asked not to be quoted by name, made the comments following news reports from Bonn that the West German government was unlikely to expel Libyan diplomats or take action against Libya on the basis of information that has been supplied so far.
Reuter news agency quoted sources in Bonn as saying the Berlin bombing will be discussed at a Cabinet meeting there today but that the response to a formal U.S. request for retaliatory measures against Libya is "almost certain to be negative."
The crucial part of the U.S. evidence against Libya, Reuter reported, was based on decoded radio messages between Tripoli and its mission in East Germany. But Bonn sources quoted in the report said the West German government was given only U.S. interpretations of the intelligence, containing "vague information" rather than the raw material of the messages.
This version of the U.S. presentation to Bonn was disputed by Washington officials, who nevertheless declined to provide details about what was said to be sensitive security information.
The evidence of Libyan complicity is reported to include communications from Libya before and after the Berlin attack with the Libyan People's Bureau, or embassy, in East Berlin. ABC News Monday night quoted U.S. intelligence sources as saying a message from Libya to its embassy in East Berlin after the bombing "indicated clear knowledge of details of the terrorist attack" and "in essence offered praise for a job well done."
In the days before the bombing, according to U.S. sources, contact was made by American officials with the Soviet and East German governments regarding the possibility of an attack on Americans in West Berlin to be mounted from communist East Berlin. Prior to the bombing last Saturday, officials here said, security at U.S. military facilities in West Berlin was heightened and military personnel warned about congregating in bars and restaurants.
The Associated Press quoted a West German official in Berlin as saying that a Libyan diplomat who formerly worked in Bonn but transferred to East Berlin last year is suspected of directing the discotheque attack. His name, first reported by a Hamburg newspaper, Bild, was given as Elamin Abdullah Elamin.
The Reagan administration is also attempting to convince the East German government to take action against Libyan diplomats implicated in U.S. evidence regarding the Berlin bombing, U.S. sources said. This issue is believed to have been discussed by President Reagan yesterday in his White House meeting with departing Soviet Ambassador Anatoliy F. Dobrynin.
A senior official said that so far the Soviet Union has not been willing to cooperate in actions against Libyans. In Moscow yesterday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Vladimir Lomeiko said that the Soviet Union "rejects any attempt to place responsibility on states that have nothing to do with them, including the Libyan authorities who have stated that they had nothing to do with this Berlin action," according to Reuter.
Attorney General Edwin Meese, addressing a forum on terrorism in Washington, said the administration's top priority is to bring down the "kingpins" of terrorism, naming the Soviets as major suppliers of terror through Libyan and Cuban proxies.
Meese did not touch on last week's attacks in Western Europe. United Press International quoted an unnamed Justice Department official as saying Meese "watered down" or omitted some of his references to Libya on White House orders.
U.S. Ambassador to West Germany Richard Burt last night criticized Bonn and other U.S. allies in Western Europe for taking a "parochial view" of terrorism, the AP reported.
Addressing The American Council on Germany, a private group, in New York, he urged that the West "work out a common approach" to meet security needs. He seemed to refer to West European reluctance in January to support the economic sanctions Reagan had imposed on Libya after the bombings at the Rome and Vienna airports.