A West German spokesman said that East German leader Erich Honecker's September visit to West Germany "will prompt manifold emotions in this divided country." He called on the press to treat the visit with "proper circumspection" and avoid arousing unrealistic expectations.
It was good advice, but the Honecker visit will inevitably arouse considerable excitement in West Germany; it will also be watched with keen interest by the Soviet Union, the United States and West Germany's European allies.
Honecker will be the first East German leader ever to visit West Germany. In 1984 a trip was canceled only a month before it was to take place because of Soviet objections. Moscow's change of heart presumably reflects a Soviet desire to encourage still closer economic relations between the two Germanys, and to further enhance Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev's already-positive image among the West German people.
It is anticipated that West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl and Honecker will sign agreements on environmental protection, as well as scientific and technological exchanges. The two leaders will also discuss European security arrangements and the human-rights situation in East Germany. And an unspoken item on the agenda will be the explosive issue of eventual German reunification.