Cautions from Kohl

The White House should give special heed to West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, who is now visiting the United States. A close and mutually satisfactory US-German relationship remains at the very core of America's overall link with Western Europe. It is absolutely vital that practical steps be taken to ensure that the bilateral relationship remains on a solid footing.

Mr. Kohl, as President Reagan is well aware, is a keen proponent of US-German accord, as well as a militarily strong North Atlantic Treaty Organization. But the larger message that Kohl is carrying to Washington these days is one that the White House does not necessarily want to hear - but which it needs to grasp if the nascent worldwide economic recovery is to prove durable.

Simply put, Mr. Kohl has been been outspoken in cautioning the White House that current US fiscal and budgetary policies - if not changed - could severely stunt or even imperil the economic recovery. Kohl has also spoken out against what he perceives to be growing trade protectionism within the United States.

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Kohl is also urging the administration to revive the now adjourned US-Soviet nuclear arms negotiations - talks involving both medium-range missiles in Europe as well as longer-range strategic weapons. Chancellor Kohl is also pressing President Reagan to consider a summit meeting this year with new Soviet leader Konstantin Chernenko. At the least, a Reagan-Chernenko meeting, as Chancellor Kohl argues, could be the start of better Western-Soviet relations in general.

In other words, somewhat direct, no-nonsense words for the Americans from the West Germans. But a message, it needs to be repeated, that comes from a stalwart American ally and, for Mr. Reagan personally, a West European ''conservative'' political leader.

So far as economic issues, the West Germans would seem to have a strong case. The large US budget deficits threaten to keep interest rates high or even drive them higher. That in turn puts upward pressure over time on the US dollar, which attracts investment money from abroad, including West Germany. To counter the high dollar, West German monetary officials must then take measures to keep their own interest rates high enough to slow the flow of investment funds abroad to the US. But that works against West Germany's recovery.

In short, continuing high deficits work against the long-range interests of both Europe and the United States. That is the primary message that Chancellor Kohl is bringing President Reagan. And that is the message that needs to be heard loud and clear in Washington.

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