East and West Germany hold a summit in Moscow
Once again East and West Germany are huddling together during a period of international uncertainty. West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl and East German state and party chief Erich Honecker held their first summit in Moscow before attending the funeral of Yuri Andropov.Skip to next paragraph
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After their two-hour meeting, Mr. Honecker told reporters the two men had had a ''good conversation.'' Dr. Kohl described the talks as ''very intensive and useful.''
He also indicated the invitation to Honecker to visit his home town in West Germany still stands. It would be the first visit ever by an East German party chief to West Germany.
The Germans do not really expect the accession of Konstantin Chernenko to the top spot in the Kremlin to cramp their style of chumminess. But they still like to guard against future vicissitudes by as much discreet preemption as possible.
In line with this, Honecker said publicly soon after Mr. Andropov's death was announced last week that there was no alternative to peaceful coexistence between the two German states - and that this was especially true at times of international tension.
For its part Bonn has made clear all along that it wants to keep the East-West German dialogue as lively as possible - especially to demonstrate to a wary public that the new NATO missile deployments are not hurting East-West relations.
In this relative bonhomie, Honecker risks arousing more Soviet suspicion than Kohl does American. (The ever-suspicious West German ally of France is a different question, of course, and Americans attending a recent conference on German affairs sponsored by the West German conservatives did raise their eyebrows at a few statements. But basically Washington trusts Kohl's government.)
Moscow's wariness, lest East Berlin get too close to Bonn, has made West German officials note especially Honecker's enlargement of his elbow room during the 15 months that a less than fully authoritative Andropov held the reins in the Soviet Union. Recent examples of Honecker's presumption included maintenance of cordial ties with West Germany even during a period when Moscow was castigating Bonn for deploying new NATO missiles.
Even more surprising, they included a public admission by Honecker that East Germany was not overjoyed at having to deploy new Soviet short-range missiles. They included as well Honecker's remark that Moscow would eventually resume nuclear arms control negotiations - at a time when the Soviets had walked out of these talks and were asserting they would not return until NATO's new Euromissiles were removed.
In part, East Berlin's interest in close relations with Bonn is economically motivated. West Germany keeps paying for human contacts between East and West Germans by money and goods, and East Germany is virtually a silent member of the European Community thanks to Bonn's insistence that East German exports be treated the same as West German exports.
East Berlin's motivation is also political, however. It does not want the benefits of the 1970s detente to be crushed by East-West tension.