East-West: Kohl Takes On Topic A

By unveiling a scheme for the "confederation" of the two Germanys, he pushes a delicate issue to the fore

To his critics, West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl has been the perpetually shrinking statesman. Despite his formidable physical size, the Bonn leader has been derided for a political ineptitude that has time and again diminished his stature in West Germany and among Europe's leaders. Lacking the mettle of Margaret Thatcher, the imperial hauteur of Francois Mitterrand, and the wiles of his rival and coalition partner, Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher, Kohl has made his mark as the Continent's veteran political survivor.

Last week, however, the Chancellor blindsided detractors and heads of state from Moscow to Washington with a far-reaching plan for binding...

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