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Reagan Stand Could Destroy Peace: Ortega : Says Conditions Could Bring U.S. Military Intervention in Region

October 06, 1987|Associated Press

MANAGUA, Nicaragua — President Daniel Ortega left for the United Nations today after warning that President Reagan's new conditions for ending aid to Nicaraguan rebels could destroy peace efforts in Central America and lead to U.S. military intervention in the region.

Ortega, speaking with reporters, referred to a speech Reagan is scheduled to deliver Wednesday at a meeting of the Organization of American States in Washington.

Reagan Administration officials have said the President will outline steps he wants the leftist Sandinista government to adopt in exchange for ending U.S. military aid to the contras .

"President Reagan's speech is dangerous, out of touch with reality and signifies that he could come out with actions against Nicaragua that would ruin the efforts of Esquipulas II and create a new military situation where the intervention of American troops cannot be ruled out," Ortega said.

Calls for End to Aid

Esquipulas II is the name of the new Central American peace plan signed Aug. 7 in Guatemala City by Ortega and the presidents of El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Costa Rica. Among other things, the plan calls for an end to foreign aid to insurgent forces in the region.

The U.S. Congress last year approved $100 million in military and other aid to the contras. The money ran out Oct. 1, and Reagan vowed to ask Congress for another $270 million for the rebels.

Nicaraguan leaders have stated that they will not accept the new Administration conditions, which reportedly include negotiations with the contras and the scheduling of early elections.

Ortega spoke to reporters after meeting with Nicaraguan opposition party leaders at a national reconciliation conference.

Since signing the regional peace plan, the Sandinista government has allowed opposition media to reopen, permitted banished priests to return and announced a unilateral, one-month cease-fire, to begin at midnight Wednesday.

But the government has refused to negotiate with the rebels, saying it will only talk with the United States, which it holds responsible for the war.

Began Talks With Opposition

The government began talks with domestic opposition parties Monday, as required by the peace plan. Ortega called on the parties to seek common ground with his government to make the peace plan succeed.

The rebels have been fighting for five years against the Sandinistas, who came to power in a 1979 revolution that overthrew rightist dictator Anastasio Somoza. The rebels have said they will not stop fighting during the partial Sandinista truce.

Reagan has called the peace plan "flawed" and the reforms taken by the Sandinistas "cosmetic gestures of compliance."

In his speech Wednesday, Reagan is expected to set out a timetable for requesting $270 million in new contra aid from Congress. The request has been held up while Central American nations begin following the provisions of the peace plan.

The plan also calls for cease-fires in rebel conflicts in Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala, amnesties for insurgents by Nov. 7, and democratic reforms.

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