West Germany rejected a demand that it recognize a separate East German citizenship, despite East Germany's claim it would help stem the flood of German refugees to the West and show good will toward the government of new leader Egon Krenz.
Krenz replaced his mentor, Erich Honecker, last week in the wake of nationwide pro-democracy demonstrations and the flight of more than 60,000 refugees to the West in recent weeks.Krenz has said his government will begin considering relaxing its ban on travel to the West.
West German officials interviewed in the West German media said Sunday the Bonn government wants good relations with the new communist leadership, but not at the expense of recognizing a separate East German citizenship. East Germans automatically qualify for West German citizenship if they want it.
East Germany maintains this stand encourages the flight of East Germans to the West and is a barrier to granting East Germans freedom of travel, a demand raised in countless demonstrations since East Germany celebrated its 40th anniversary Oct. 7.
"The surrender of an undivided German citizenship is out of the question for the Federal Republic," West German Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said in an interview with the Welt am Sonntag newspaper.
He said East Germany will have to solve for itself whatever problems arise from this policy, one of the foundations of West German policy toward its eastern neighbor.
A senior aide to Chancellor Helmut Kohl, Rudolf Seiters, who is responsible for relations with East Germany, hinted that Kohl may be ready to meet Krenz soon to discuss bilateral relations and the direction of reform in the communist state.
"The federal government is interested in the further development of German relations," Seiters told the Welt am Sonntag.
"Priorities are a policy of reform in the German Democratic Republic and freedom of travel. In addition, there are a number of bilateral questions that should be solved in the interest of both states," he said.
Thousands of East Berliners marched on police headquarters Saturday seeking the release of pro-democracy demonstrators jailed for demanding reforms during Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev's visit this month.
The marchers also demanded the firing of police officers they say are guilty of brutality in suppressing pro-democracy demonstrations in Berlin and Dresden.
Guenter Schabowski, the East Berlin Communist Party leader, told the protesters Saturday the right to freer travel has the "highest priority" and will be considered by appropriate government bodies this week.