President Reagan, who aides said is increasingly frustrated by lack of allied support for U.S. military and economic actions against Libya, said yesterday he will appeal personally for concerted action against international terrorism when he meets leaders of six industrialized democracies at the Economic Summit in Tokyo next week.
"We're going to the summit to see what we can work out together," Reagan said in an interview with wire service reporters.
The president is scheduled to depart Friday for Indonesia and Japan, the longest trip of his presidency, after giving what his aides said would be a major speech here Wednesday emphasizing democratic gains in the world during his administration and defending his antiterrorist policy.
Reagan's disappointment at the failure of any European ally other than Britain to endorse last week's U.S. bombing raid on Libya was evident in yesterday's interview in which the president said he couldn't "see any justification" for France's refusal to allow U.S. F111s based in Britain to use French airspace en route to Libya.
"I have to criticize that," the president said. "I can't see any justification for it. They had the evidence. They, themselves, were taking actions such as sending Libyan diplomats home."
Both France and Britain joined the United States yesterday in the U.N. Security Council in vetoing a United Nations resolution that would have condemned the U.S. attack on Libya.
In his interview yesterday, Reagan said some allies had privately suggested "that we look seriously at real major action" against Libya. A senior U.S. official, noting that France was the only ally that made this suggestion, dismissed it as "posturing" from a nation that did not want to risk openly associating with a military response.
Reagan's guarded comments about France's supposed private advocacy of stronger military action came after New York Times columnist William Safire last Friday quoted a French diplomat as saying that if the United States had been willing to hit decisively at Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi, "you would have found us on your side." The Washington Times yesterday said that French President Francois Mitterrand had told U.S. envoy Vernon A. Walters last Monday that France would support the action only if it were strong enough to have "the political objective" of ousting Qaddafi.
Reagan did not mention France by name or the officials who supposedly had made the suggestion. The French government declined public comment.
In discussing what he intended to do at the Economic Summit, where terrorism could overshadow economic issues, the president said he would emphasize practical remedies rather than seeking to obtain "some great big statement about the evils of terrorism."
Some U.S. officials said they think that a statement on which all the allies could agree would be so watered down as to be meaningless.
"We'd much rather have an open and frank discussion, and hopefully some understanding of our views and understanding of the worldwide threat, and understanding of the need for U.S.-allied cooperation as the only answer to terrorism," said White House spokesman Larry Speakes.
In the interview yesterday, the president defended his decision to include the headquarters and home of Qaddafi among the military targets. Libyan reports said that an infant daughter of Qaddafi was killed and two sons wounded.
"It's something you regret any time children or innocent people are wounded or killed . . . ," Reagan said. "On the other hand, I was equally sorry about a little baby that was blown out of the side of an airplane and fell 15,000 feet to its death along with her mother and grandmother. I also feel badly about an 11-year-old girl that was shot down in cold blood for simply standing in the airport in Rome. I think that was one of the deeds that Mr. Qaddafi referred to as a noble deed."
He was referring to an explosion aboard TWA Flight 840 over Greece three weeks ago and to the terrorist attack at the Rome airport last December that killed 11-year-old Natasha Simpson, among others.
Reagan also contended that terrorists were not succeeding in their goals, despite an increasing number of urban barricades and the growing fears of airline travelers.
"No, terrorism hasn't succeeded," Reagan said. "Terrorism will have succeeded when we decide that we shouldn't take any action against it."
Meanwhile, Pentagon officials said that military commanders in Europe, the Philippines and other potential world danger spots have been ordered to increase security for fear of new terrorist acts sponsored by Libya against U.S. service members. These officials said they have been fearful for some time of terrorist attacks in West Germany and Italy but only recently have received warnings that Libyan-sponsored terrorists may become active against Americans in the Philippines.
U.S. officials are concerned that terrorists will attempt some dramatic act while Reagan is abroad to disrupt his efforts to forge a unified antiterrorist approach with the allies. A senior official said the United States reserved its right to retaliate, as Reagan emphasized last week, but said that a second U.S. strike is "less likely to occur" while the president is out of the country.
It is considered unlikely by senior officials that the United States would retaliate for scattered terrorist incidents unless there was conclusive proof of Libyan involvement and reason to believe that further incidents would occur -- the rationale of "preemptive self-defense" that Reagan offered for the April 15 raid.
Speakes said yesterday that the administration was not prepared to blame Libya for the death of Peter Kilburn, an American librarian killed in Beirut after the raid. A note near the body said the killing was in retaliation for the U.S. mission.