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Contra, Salvador Rebel Leaders May Go Home to Join Legal Opposition

August 21, 1987|MARJORIE MILLER | Times Staff Writer

SAN SALVADOR — Spokesmen for Nicaragua's contras and for El Salvador's political exiles said Thursday that they are considering sending high-level representatives back to their respective countries to take part in a legal opposition under the terms of a preliminary peace accord signed by the presidents of the five Central American nations.

Contra officials and leaders of the Revolutionary Democratic Front, a political coalition allied with the leftist guerrillas in El Salvador, said that a return home of some of their leaders will depend on security guarantees offered by the Nicaraguan and Salvadoran governments.

Set to Go to Nicaragua

"I am ready to go to Nicaragua, but the decision has to come from the (contra) directorate," Nicaraguan contra leader Alfonso Robelo said.

The officials made their comments in interviews with The Times as foreign ministers of the five Central American governments wrapped up a two-day meeting during which they worked on details of implementing the peace plan signed Aug. 7 in Guatemala City.

The foreign ministers called their session "a success" and agreed to continue the work at a meeting in Nicaragua in 30 days. But some diplomats who attended the meeting said they did not accomplish as much as they had hoped because of foot-dragging by the delegation from Honduras, one of the U.S. allies in the region.

"There were a lot of 'yes, buts. . . .' from Honduras," a diplomat who attended the meeting said. "It was a way of not reaching agreements."

The Honduran foreign minister arrived a day late to the meeting, saying he was delayed for personal reasons.

The Reagan Administration has expressed serious doubts about the Central American peace plan, which has overshadowed a White House peace proposal. U.S. officials have said they do not believe that Nicaragua's Sandinista government will comply with the agreement and indicated that they will seek appropriations to aid the contras beyond Nov. 7, the target date for cease-fires in all Central American guerrilla wars under the Central American presidents' plan.

The foreign ministers are to meet in Caracas, Venezuela, over the weekend with eight other Latin American foreign ministers and the secretaries general of the United Nations and the Organization of American States, whom they will ask to form an international verification commission to oversee the peace process.

In addition to cease-fires, the peace plan, aimed at ending guerrilla wars in Nicaragua and El Salvador as well as a lesser insurrection in Guatemala, calls for the simultaneous meeting of four other conditions. These embrace programs of amnesty for rebels, for a free press and other democratic measures, an end to foreign assistance to the rebels and an end to the practice of one country letting rebels use its territory to stage attacks on a neighboring country.

Contra Camps in Honduras

The contras' main base camps are in Honduras, and their U.S. advisers are also stationed there. The guerrillas of El Salvador's Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front receive logistical and military assistance from Nicaragua as well as from Cuba and the Soviet Union.

Salvadoran President Jose Napoleon Duarte has called for the contras and the Salvadoran guerrillas to endorse the Central American presidents' call for each to meet with the governments in their respective countries on Sept. 15 to discuss cease-fires.

The six leaders of the Nicaraguan Resistance, as the contras call themselves, are scheduled to meet with Duarte today to accept his plan, on condition that they get assurances from Nicaragua on security, access to the media and third-party guarantors for any agreement, according to diplomats and contra sources here.

The contras have said they will not talk to the Sandinistas through "intermediaries," but Nicaraguan Foreign Minister Miguel D'Escoto on Thursday reiterated Managua's longstanding demand that any dialogue must be conducted with the United States, which backs the contras.

"We have always been willing to meet with the leadership of the contras--President Reagan," D'Escoto said.

El Salvador's guerrillas have said they view the peace initiative "positively," and they agreed to talks with Duarte, but they have not endorsed the Central American presidents' plan. Duarte says the guerrillas must renounce violence before any talks can be held.

"Whether or not we support the plan is the wrong question because we haven't signed anything," Salvador Samayoa, a spokesman for the Farabundo Marti Front, said in a telephone interview from Mexico. "No one can make an agreement for us without our participation, if they want to achieve anything."

The Salvador guerrillas' political allies and the contras, meanwhile, said in interviews that they prefer negotiations under the peace plan to continued armed fighting, but neither group is willing to see military pressure taken off of the respective governments as yet.

The Revolutionary Democratic Front may send one of its ablest leaders, Ruben Zamora, back into El Salvador, according to two members of the coalition.

"We will take advantage of the political space the plan offers," said Jorge Villacorta, a spokesman for the coalition of exiled political leaders. He added that for either Zamora or himself to return, Duarte would have to assure that they would not be imprisoned and would have to guarantee protection against so-called death squads.

Zamora left the country in 1980 after his brother was killed in San Salvador by unidentified men.

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