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East-West German Meeting Fails to Resolve Crisis : No Break in Deadlock Over Refugees in Bonn Missions

August 19, 1989|WILLIAM TUOHY | Times Staff Writer

BONN — East Germany and West Germany failed to reach agreement Friday on solving the crisis over the crush of East Germans seeking to settle in the West, a senior Bonn official reported.

"Unfortunately, it has to be said that East Germany is not prepared to go beyond its original promise," Rudolf Seiters, chief of staff to Chancellor Helmut Kohl, told reporters after he met for two hours in East Berlin with East Germany's deputy foreign minister, Herbert Krolikowski.

East Germany has pledged not to prosecute East Germans who have taken refuge in Bonn's mission in East Berlin and its embassies in Hungary, Poland and Czechoslovakia. But it has refused demands for a guarantee that it would allow refugees who voluntarily returned to East Germany to go to the West at a later date.

Kohl Willing to Meet Honecker

Prior to the meeting, Kohl said he was willing to meet East German Communist leader Erich Honecker in an attempt to resolve the refugee crisis that has soured relations between the two countries.

"If it was urgently necessary to make personal contact, I would do so immediately, if it appeared useful," Kohl said in a television interview.

Kohl added that he has no present plans to visit East Berlin, where more than 100 East Germans are sheltered in the West German mission.

The East Germans entered the West German mission, seeking passports or other documents that would allow them to travel to the West. But because such documents are not enough to gain the would-be travelers passage through East German border controls, the West German mission is not issuing them.

The East German petitioners have remained in the mission building, which has been closed to the public, and West German officials are under orders not to expel them.

An estimated 1.5 million East Germans would seek to emigrate if the Communist regime would let them leave, officials here say. But only about 90,000 East Germans will be allowed to emigrate officially this year.

West German authorities are trying to negotiate exit visas for those in the mission, without success so far. The East German government has said that it will not prosecute the refugees but that it would not guarantee them permission to leave the country.

Meanwhile, in Budapest, where about 180 East Germans wishing to travel to the West have taken refuge in the West German Embassy, charity workers set up 12 tents to accommodate about 250 additional visa seekers who were waiting outside the building. A field kitchen and mobile sanitary facilities were also put into operation.

Vacationers Seek Visas

Many East Germans on vacation in Hungary have sought visas at the West German Embassy or have tried to cross the border illegally into Austria.

An estimated 1,000 East Germans have evaded Hungarian border controls in the past two weeks and made their way to West Germany through Austria.

In Bonn, the government announced that because of the heavy influx of East Germans, the main camp for refugees at Geissen is overflowing and an unused army camp near Muenster will be prepared to handle newcomers, who automatically receive West German passports and welfare benefits.

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