BONN — President Reagan, declaring that he was responding to an emergency created by the "aggressive activities" of Nicaragua's leftist Sandinista government, Wednesday formally ordered a total embargo of U.S. trade with that country, including a ban on all service to the United States by Nicaraguan ships and aircraft.
Reagan's sweeping executive order on the embargo, contained in a toughly worded message to Congress citing his reasons for the action, was released by the White House press office here Wednesday morning soon after the President arrived for a seven-nation economic summit, which begins tonight.
"Nicaragua's continuing efforts to subvert its neighbors, its rapid and destabilizing military buildup, its close military and security ties to Cuba and the Soviet Union and its imposition of Communist totalitarian internal rule have been described fully in the past several weeks," Reagan told Congress.
He said this "disturbing trend" has been underscored by Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega's visit this week to Moscow, where Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev promised to provide economic aid for Nicaragua, which is suffering severe problems with its economy.
Review After Setback
Congress set the stage for the trade cutoff last week when it rejected the President's proposal for providing $14 million in aid to the U.S.-backed Nicaraguan rebels, known as contras, who are fighting to overthrow Nicaragua's left-wing government. After that setback, suffered after an intensive presidential lobbying effort, Reagan ordered a full review of U.S. policy on Nicaragua.
Administration officials had said Tuesday that Reagan would issue the order Wednesday. It will take effect next Tuesday.
Despite the Nicaraguan problem and the continuing controversy over his scheduled visit Sunday to a German military cemetery at Bitburg, which has made this the most controversial foreign trip of his presidency, Reagan smiled and appeared buoyant as he stepped out of Air Force One at rain-swept Cologne-Bonn Airport.
Reagan, clad in a trenchcoat, and his wife, Nancy, dressed in bright blue, were greeted by West German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher and other waiting officials and then quickly taken by helicopter for a day's rest at centuries-old Gymnich Castle, the state guest house.
The three-day economic summit of seven democratic industrialized nations--the United States, Canada, France, Britain, Italy, West Germany and Japan--will open with Reagan prepared to press for a new round of global trade negotiations.
In his embargo message to Congress, Reagan noted that during the last month's debate on U.S. policy on Nicaragua, many members of Congress, "both supporters and opponents" of his Central American policies, had urged economic sanctions against Nicaragua.
Nicaragua's rejection of his proposal for peace talks, he said, "viewed in the light of the constantly rising pressure that Nicaragua's military buildup places on the democratic nations of the region, makes clear the urgent threat that Nicaragua's activities represent to the security of the region and, therefore, to the security and foreign policy of the United States."
Reagan List of Demands
Reagan said he has made clear that peace can be achieved in Central America only if there are "changes in Sandinista behavior." He called on the Nicaraguan government to:
--Halt export of armed insurrection, terrorism and subversion in neighboring countries.
--End its extensive military relationship with Cuba and the Soviet Bloc and remove their military and security personnel.
--Stop its massive arms buildup and help restore the regional military balance.
--Respect democratic pluralism and observe full political and human rights in Nicaragua.
The Nicaraguan government and those who support it, Reagan said, should view the trade embargo by the United States, which has been Nicaragua's most important trading partner, as "unmistakable evidence that we take seriously the obligation to protect our security interests and those of our friends."
In answer to a question, White House spokesman Larry Speakes said Reagan did not sign the executive order on the embargo until he reached Bonn because consultations with members of Congress were still under way when he left Washington on Tuesday night.
Question of Timing
Asked if it would be "too cynical to suggest that you timed this move in the middle of Europe in order to take the heat off the President's visit to Bitburg," Speakes replied, "Yes, it would."
Speakes said Reagan had considered a number of options before ordering the trade embargo and had decided against breaking diplomatic relations with Managua because it would not be timely "when negotiations were at least part of our goal."
In addition to the reasons Reagan cited for the embargo, Speakes listed several other developments that he said were part of a "disturbing trend" as Congress rejected the President's plan to provide aid for the contras: