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Shultz to Outline Concerns on Latin Talks

September 10, 1987|DOYLE McMANUS | Times Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — After weeks of private debate within the Reagan Administration, Secretary of State George P. Shultz plans to name a new special envoy to Central America and outline U.S. concerns about the current peace talks in the region today, State Department officials said Wednesday.

Shultz, who is scheduled to testify before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is expected to complain that the peace plan adopted by five Central American presidents in Guatemala City last month does not reduce the presence of Soviet and Cuban advisers in leftist-ruled Nicaragua, they said.

"The tone will be soft, but there will be hard truths in it," an aide said.

Shultz will reaffirm the Administration's public support for the negotiations but will also insist that Nicaragua must return to full democracy as a condition for peace, the officials said.

Replacement for Habib

At the same time, Shultz has decided to name career diplomat Morris D. Busby as a special envoy to Central America to replace Philip C. Habib, who resigned last month in a rift over U.S. policy in the area, aides said.

Habib, a veteran negotiator, quit after the White House rejected a proposal that he take an active role in the talks that have followed the Guatemala pact. Instead, the United States has been virtually absent from Central American diplomacy for more than a month, officials said.

The Guatemala accord, which calls for a cease-fire, democratic reforms and an end to U.S. aid for Nicaraguan contras, touched off a fierce internal debate within the Administration. Some officials have condemned the plan as "a disaster," but others have argued that the United States should support the negotiations and try to persuade the Central Americans to address U.S. concerns.

Busby's appointment suggests that Shultz wants at least to explore the possibility of working within the negotiations, aides said. But they added that the choice of Busby, an obscure Foreign Service officer in contrast to the influential Habib, reflects the Administration's desire to keep any negotiating efforts under tight rein.

Busby, 49, has been a deputy to Assistant Secretary of State Elliott Abrams since May. An aide said he was traveling in Central America on Wednesday and could not be reached for comment.

A native of Huntington, W.Va., Busby spent 15 years as an officer in the Navy before joining the State Department in 1973. He was a member of the U.S. negotiating team at the Geneva arms control talks with the Soviet Union from 1981 to 1983 and served as deputy chief of the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City from 1984 until January, 1987.

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