WEST BERLIN, OCT. 27 -- West German President Richard von Weizsaecker, appealing for world economic cooperation in the wake of global stock market plunges, said today that European nations must pursue "a suitable and sensible growth policy" if the United States makes a "serious reduction" in its budget deficit.

In a speech here, von Weizsaecker also indicated that he believed that West Germany should be willing to risk more inflation in the interest of spurring domestic growth, as the United States repeatedly has urged. U.S. officials have criticized West Germany for having an obsessive fear of inflation that goes back to the collapse of the mark following World War I.

"In view of {economic} globalization, no one can stick all too doggedly to one's own traditions, to one's inherited fears. We Germans cannot do so either," von Weizsaecker said.

Von Weizsaecker added, however, that West Germany and other European countries could not become "a real global locomotive" for growth, because they could not afford to run large deficits as the United States has done. He criticized the United States for "living beyond its means," and said that it would be "difficult" for Washington to find "a short-term remedy."

Von Weizsaecker, in the largely ceremonial position of president and chief of state, does not have a direct role in setting policy. That responsibility rests with the head of government, Chancellor Helmut Kohl.

But von Weizsaecker frequently uses his position to describe broadly the direction in which he believes West Germany should go, and to outline West German positions on major issues.

Perhaps because of his special role, von Weizsaecker was able to discuss the implications of the stock market crashes at a time when other senior West German officials have refrained from making such specific public statements on the subject. Other officials apparently have been cautious out of fear of calling attention to their disputes with Washington.

"If there should be a serious reduction of the American budget deficit, a suitable and sensible growth policy on the part of the Europeans will be absolutely necessary," von Weizsaecker said.

The president spoke as West Germany reported that its trade surplus in September was the second highest in the country's history. The data was expected to add to U.S. pressure on Bonn to pump up its economy, draw in more imports and thus help to reduce the massive U.S. trade deficit.

West Germany's trade surplus last month rose to the equivalent of $6.5 billion from $3.7 billion in August, the Federal Statistics Office said.

The trade surplus report helped push the dollar to its lowest level against the mark in more than six years. It was trading this evening at 1.76 marks, down from 1.77 late yesterday.

The dollar fell also because of growing evidence that senior West German economic officials, at a meeting in Frankfurt a week ago with U.S. Treasury Secretary James Baker, agreed to let the dollar float down by a small amount, currency traders said.

They cited a statement to the Reuter news agency by West German central bank official Leonhard Gleske that the bank opposed a "sharp" fall in the dollar. Given the central bank's previous opposition to any fall in the dollar, the statement appeared to imply that the West Germans were willing to accept a moderate decline.

Von Weizsaecker spoke at an international conference where former chancellor Helmut Schmidt and visiting former secretary of state Henry A. Kissinger delivered strong criticisms of western economic leadership yesterday. The subject of the conference, organized by the private Aspen Institute, was Europe in the 21st century.

"We all in the West will soon face a major economic crisis when the neglects of the last decades will become evident, and the markets will not solve those. It will require some act of coherent leadership that restores confidence and a sense of direction," Kissinger said in a speech that dealt mostly with arms control issues and policy toward the Soviet Union.

Schmidt said that the West had adopted a policy of "muddling through."

"While the solution is clear, nobody has the courage to do what needs to be done," he said.

Von Weizsaecker was more optimistic, saying that the "storm" on stock markets had offered "the chance for a beneficial lesson."