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Ortega Assails Reagan Over Contra Aid Issue

October 07, 1987|Associated Press

MANAGUA, Nicaragua — President Daniel Ortega said President Reagan's new conditions for ending aid to Nicaraguan contras 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 today 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.

Esquipulas II is named after the town in Guatemala where the new Central American peace plan was signed Aug. 7 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 has vowed to ask Congress for another $270 million for the rebels.

Nicaraguan leaders have stated that they will not accept the new Reagan Administration conditions, which reportedly include negotiations with the contras.

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 re-open, permitted banished priests to return and announced a unilateral, one-month cease-fire, to begin today at midnight.

The government has begin pulling out its troops from three war zones in the northern part of the country in preparation for the cease-fire, the Sandinista newspaper Barricada reported Tuesday.

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

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 contras 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." In his speech today, 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.

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