West German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt has done a "fairly masterful job" in overcoming the impression that a rift exists between his country and the United States over Afghanistan, according to a State Department official.
The official said the US got the impression during the chancellor's just-completed talks here that West Germany is "pretty much on board" with the United States in opposing participation by the allied nations in the summer Olympics in Moscow as long as Soviet troops remain in Afghanistan.
Chancellor Schmidt previously had been critical of the way in which the United States announced its opposition to the Olympics. He had been given only a few hours' notice before the announcement when it was made some weeks ago.
But the tough question of whether the West Germans would turn economic screws on the Soviets apparently was left unresolved. The US would like to see the West German government tighten up on the guarantees, or insurance, it provides for West German trade with the Soviet Union. German diplomats say legal obligations do not permit their government much flexibility on this issue. It also is clear that the West Germans fear that punitive economic measures on their part against the Soviet Union might eventually cause the Soviets to restrict the emigration flow of ethnic Germans from east to west.
Most experts say they think that where the West Germans may be more forthcoming is on the question of cutting back on the sale of high-technology items to the Soviets. Chancellor Schmidt indicated recently that his country would be willing to agree to restrictions on high-technology sales as long as it was within the context of agreement among all the allies.
On another issue, aid to Turkey, US officials said they were satisfied that West Germany was doing its part. The Germans have taken the position that they will contribute one-quarter of a proposed $1 billion aid package, as long as the US matches this with an equal contribution. Other allies would contribute the remaining half. At this point, the problem may be with the Carter administration, which could have trouble coming up with its contribution during the current budget squeeze.