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Reagan Threat to Peace Plan, Arias Warns

September 21, 1987|United Press International

MANHATTAN, Kan. — Costa Rican President Oscar Arias Sanchez said today that a Central American plan for ending the conflict in Nicaragua could be derailed by the Reagan Administration's effort to secure new financing for the contra rebels.

The suspension of U.S. aid to the contras would help the accord be implemented, Arias said at a news conference shortly before he delivered a speech in the Landon Lecture series at Kansas State University.

"As long as Washington supports the contras, Washington will be isolated," he said. "No other country in Central America supports Washington on that."

"Now, without the contras, we have a chance to end the war," he said. "I think the greatest importance of the agenda in the next few weeks has got to be the cease-fire in Nicaragua as well as El Salvador. Without a cease-fire it will be very difficult to advance along with the Guatemala accord."

Arias is scheduled to meet Tuesday with President Reagan and Congress to try to garner support for the peace accord he was instrumental in drafting. He said the United States must shut off aid to the contras and the Soviet Union must terminate assistance to insurgents in El Salvador.

"We demand that all foreign powers suspend military aid to the irregular forces in the region," he said in a prepared copy of his speech. "We seek guarantees that no nation will allow its territory to be used to attack another nation."

Responding to questions, he denied that he doubts U.S. support for the peace initiative, signed Aug. 7 by five Central American presidents.

He said he is optimistic the countries can comply with the Nov. 7 deadline for a cease-fire in Nicaragua. The accord also calls for an end of aid for resistance forces, talks between incumbent governments and the unarmed opposition, an amnesty and steps for the democratization of Nicaragua.

He applauded the decision by the Nicaraguan government to allow the opposition newspaper, La Prensa, to resume publication.

"That was a very important gesture," Arias said.

Reagan has called the peace accord "fatally flawed" and said he intends to ask Congress for $270 million in aid to the contras for the next 18 months.

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