NEW YORK — Congressional investigators say the Reagan Administration arranged for Communist countries, such as China and Poland, to sell weapons to the rebels fighting Nicaragua's leftist government, a newspaper reported today.
The New York Times, in its Saturday editions, quotes an Administration official as saying that then-White House aide Lt. Col. Oliver L. North persuaded China to sell the contras some Soviet-made SAM-7 antiaircraft missiles, the first sales of such weapons to the rebels.
The unidentified official told the paper the deal had been arranged through the Chinese military and may not have had the approval of the political leadership. The sales ended suddenly in 1985, the paper said.
There was no immediate comment from Washington.
The arms sales came as Chinese leaders were moving to improve ties with the Nicaraguan government. Coincidentally, a Sandinista helicopter was shot down with a SAM-7 during a visit to Peking by Nicaragua's foreign minister, the paper quoted the source as saying.