West Germany Chancellor Helmut Kohl today said that "there are a whole number of indications" that Libyans and possibly others were involved in last Saturday's West Berlin discotheque bombing, but he cautioned the United States against taking military reprisals against Libya.
A U.S. Army sergeant and a Turkish woman were killed in the bombing of the La Belle discotheque and 204 persons were injured, 64 of them Americans.
Asked at a news conference here whether U.S. military reprisals against Libya for alleged terrorist deeds would be appropriate, Kohl said he was wary of the consequences of such actions.
"If you introduce this term reprisals into the debate," Kohl said, "you must know what you are beginning and how you are going to get out of it in the end."
Reflecting a general reluctance among U.S. allies in Europe to rally behind a military strike against the regime of Muammar Qaddafi, Kohl added, "That would always be my advice, despite all the sympathy I have for the enormous bitterness in America."
Kohl said he would express his reservations to the Reagan administration.
Qaddafi said Friday that Libya was ready to attack southern Europe in response to a threat from NATO, the official JANA news agency reported from Tripoli. JANA quoted Qaddafi as saying NATO was threatening civilian targets in his country, and "the whole of southern Europe is today included in the Libyan counterattack plan . . . ," the Associated Press reported.
In Rome, Italian Prime Minister Bettino Craxi advised against an anti-Libyan "military blitz" in a statement issued last night. Craxi, referring to a possible U.S. armed strike on Libya, said: "We're facing an increasing deterioration of relations, a tangle of problems that certainly cannot be resolved by a military blitz."
Italy called today for an urgent meeting of European Community foreign ministers to work out a joint response to terrorism and rising tension in the Mediterranean, according to a Foreign Ministry statement in Rome.
In Ottawa, Prime Minister Brian Mulroney warned President Reagan against using "a shotgun approach" to retaliate against terrorist attacks. "We advised our allies to act prudently and that any retribution be justified, and to act very cautiously in this whole area," he told the House of Commons, Reuter reported.
In West Berlin, French officials opposed a U.S.-led proposal to block the passage of Libyan diplomats from East to West Berlin, according to western diplomats there. A meeting of senior officials from the United States, France and Great Britain on the proposed restriction was postponed today, the western diplomat said, due to lack of agreement among the three powers, which have responsibility for the security of West Berlin under a post-World War II agreement.
Allegations that members of Libya's East Berlin-based People's Bureau, or embassy, were involved in the discotheque bombing last week led to the move to bar members of the 11-person mission from entering West Berlin. But French officials are not in full agreement, West Berlin-based diplomats said, as they believe the evidence against Libya is not strong enough to justify such a curb.
Moreover, the allied powers have always maintained that the division of the two cities is illegal and there is concern that introduction of border checks could be seen as legitimizing it.
East German leader Erich Honecker, in a speech in East Berlin Wednesday, suggested a possible compromise. Expressing his sympathy for the victims of the bombing, Honecker said, "In the face of such occurrences, we support West Berlin police being given the permission of responsible occupation authorities to undertake ID controls," at the border between East and West Berlin.
In Bonn, Kohl told reporters today that "there are a whole number of indications that the attack on the Berlin discotheque also had Libyan background.
"Note that I said 'also' and not 'only'," Kohl added. He declined to elaborate, but the Bonn government is expected to expand on its findings on the Berlin bombing next week before a parliamentary committee.
Senior West German officials in Bonn, after examining U.S. evidence that Libyan agents were involved in the bombing incident, have concluded that evidence against Libya is strong, according to diplomatic sources here.
But, after expelling two Libyan diplomats from West Germany earlier this week, the Bonn government seems unlikely to launch further reprisals against Libya, despite pressures from Washington.
Kohl today repeated West Germany's opposition to economic sanctions against Libya and added that he saw no reason to recommend the evacuation of the 1,500 West Germans living in Libya. He said he knew of no plans for a U.S. strike.
But West German Economic Minister Martin Bangemann urged strong action against Qaddafi if it can be proved that Libya was involved in the Berlin attack and a bomb attack last Wednesday that killed four Americans aboard a TWA plane en route from Rome to Athens. "Let us hope that Libya is not involved," Bangemann said. "That would be intolerable," he added. "Even Qaddafi knows the risk he is running.