Dutch, Germans Back Bush Anti-Terror Drive
Vice President George Bush, his “working visit” to European capitals largely converted to a whistle-stop campaign against terrorism, won solid support from Dutch and West German leaders Tuesday for a united Western stance against terrorist acts of violence.
During the rest of his 10-day trip, the vice president may take a more active role in advocating American counterterrorism policies to U.S. allies, a Bush spokesman said.
During a midday luncheon in Bonn, West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl told Bush that his nation is “prepared to lend you a helping hand, to cooperate with you” to resolve the crisis surrounding the 40 Americans held hostage by Shia Muslim hijackers.
‘Against This Plague’
In one of the strongest European statements on the incident so far, Kohl said: “It’s just overdue for all the civilized nations to join forces against this plague of our modern era. This challenge will not bring the modern states down to their knees but will find them able and capable to take the necessary action with a sense of proportion and prudence.”
American officials, pleased by the unexpectedly forceful remarks, noted that West Germany has suffered more terrorist attacks than any other West European nation. The latest, a bombing at the Frankfurt airport last Wednesday, killed three people.
Hours after Kohl spoke, as Bush visited the Netherlands, Dutch Prime Minister Ruud Lubbers called it “essential that we take a firm stand against terrorism of every kind,” saying the issue contains “no room for compromise.”
No Details Revealed
By contrast, Bush’s public remarks have been muted in the first three days of his trip, both on American plans to counter terrorism and on other issues. The vice president has refused to reveal any more than the general topics of his discussions with Kohl, Lubbers and, earlier, Italian Prime Minister Bettino Craxi.
With regard to counterterrorism measures or the U.S. hostage crisis, Bush has repeatedly said he has no new proposals to offer European leaders and wishes only to consult with them on their views.
That could change rapidly, however, Marlin Fitzwater, Bush’s press secretary, said late Tuesday.
Shortly after President Reagan met in Washington with members of the National Security Council to discuss U.S. options in the hostage crisis, Fitzwater said Bush likely will be called on to discuss with European allies any direct action that Washington might choose to take.
That could change Bush’s European agenda, but Fitzwater said it is too early to tell whether the remaining week of the visit will be affected.
Repeating His Pledge
After daylong talks with Kohl and other West German political leaders Tuesday, Bush repeated a pledge made earlier in Italy that the U.S. will not “knuckle under” to terrorist demands that the release of American hostages be linked to Israel’s freeing of Lebanese Muslims being held in an Israeli military prison.