UNDER heavy criticism for not doing enough to support the Gulf effort against Iraq, West Germany is ready to increase its contribution. When United States Secretary of State James Baker III visits the West German foreign minister and chancellor Sept. 15, they will offer him ``far-reaching'' sea and air assistance, to help transport US troops and equipment to the Gulf, according to a government official in Bonn who asked not to be identified.
At the request of the US, West Germany also plans to offer immediate aid of about 500 million deutsche marks ($322 million) to Jordan, Egypt, and Turkey, mostly in the form of goods. The aim is to keep the trade embargo against Iraq watertight by helping countries adversely affected by it - countries that otherwise might be tempted to break the embargo.
Additional aid of a ``considerable amount'' is on the way for these three Middle East nations, but cannot be processed right away because of budgetary red tape, according to the official. Normally, West Germany assists these countries with about 460 million deutsche marks ($297 million) annually.
Bonn, however, will not comply with Mr. Baker's wish expressed in Brussels this week: that NATO allies send ground forces, even at symbolic levels.
The US press and American lawmakers have been critical of Bonn's support so far, especially in light of the greater weight West Germany assumes through reunification.
``We are reading the [US] press,'' says another government official, who also asked not to be identified. On the diplomatic level, he adds, the complaints aren't being expressed ``as a criticism, but as a polite request.''
Chancellor Helmut Kohl, he says, is indebted to President Bush for his early and full support of German reunification.
One problem is that, while numerous other US allies have sent warships and military personnel to the Gulf, West Germany has sent only a fleet of minesweepers - to the eastern Mediterranean Sea.