Schmidt warns of NATO split over gas pipeline

BONN, West Germany -- West German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt said Tuesday President Reagan's decision to extend sanctions to European firms contructing the Soviet gas pipeline 'generally damaged relations' between Washington and its NATO allies.

Schmidt, beginning a 10-day American trip that includes talks with Secretary of State George Shultz, called the sanctions an attempt to extend American sovereignty to Europe.


'That is something we cannot accept in Europe,' he said.

He said his discussions with Shultz would center on the 'generally damaged relations' between America and its European partners.

President Reagan last month decided to ban firms holding American manufacturing licenses in Europe from making equipment for the disputed Soviet gas pipeline to Western Europe.

The decision already had been severely criticized by Britain's Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and the other allies.

European officials regard the pipeline as an economic boon, creating new jobs for their depressed economies -- which many Europeans blame on Washington's inability to lower interest rates.

Reagan and U.S. Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger had hoped to halt contruction of the pipeline because they feel it would make France, West Germany and Italy dependent on Soviet energy resources and susceptible to economic blackmail.


They also believe sale of natural gas to West Europe would fill Soviet coffers with new funds for military use.

But Schmidt said the United States would have to 'discipline itself to listen to and consider' the concerns of its European partners in world affairs as well as global economics and the disputed pipeline project.

During his trip, Schmidt is scheduled to address a chamber of commerce gathering in Houston, Texas, and to meet with Shultz in California.

The West German Economics minister Otto Graf Lambsdorff flew to the United States last week for talks on the gas pipeline with White House officials.

Schmidt is not scheduled to meet with Reagan during his trip.

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