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Ortega Offers One-Month Truce, Chance of Amnesty : Contras to Get Poposal Within Days

November 13, 1987|Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega today proposed a monthlong cease-fire with the Contra rebels, to take effect Dec. 5, and said they would be given amnesty if they lay down their arms during that time.

Ortega detailed an 11-point cease-fire proposal to Nicaraguan Cardinal Miguel Obando y Bravo in a two-hour meeting at the Vatican Embassy.

Ortega said afterward that his goal is to bring about the national reconciliation called for in the Aug. 7 five-nation Central American peace accord and to bring the Contras back into the political life of Nicaragua.

"This is the first step," Ortega told reporters outside the embassy. "Nicaragua has offered enough proof, and this is more proof of our willingness to obtain peace."

The cardinal, who was returning to Nicaragua via Miami today, said he would relay the Sandinista government proposal to Contra leaders in the next day or so, either in Miami or in Central America.

Ortega's plan specifies that Contras in the field not get any military supplies during the cease-fire.

The plan would, however, allow food, clothing and medical care to be provided by a neutral international agency.

3 Cease-Fire Zones

The proposal stipulates that Contra troops must station themselves in one of three cease-fire zones, totaling 10,800 square kilometers. Government troops would permit a 15-day period before the cease-fire goes into effect to allow rebels to move safely into those zones.

House Speaker Jim Wright, who attended the meeting with Ortega and Obando, said the Ortega plan has "elements of good faith" from both sides but added, "I see some rough areas that are going to need to be smoothed out."

"I am very happy that at least one more step seems to be moving in this progression toward peace," Wright told reporters after the meeting. "It is not yet at hand, but movement continues in that direction, for which I am very grateful."

The White House, meanwhile, said President Reagan is concerned that Wright has been holding private talks with Ortega. "We don't know what (Wright) is up to," presidential spokesman Marlin Fitzwater said.

"It certainly raises a lot of red flags and it may well not have been in the best interest of the peace process," Fitzwater said. He said Wright did not mention the talks with Ortega when Secretary of State George P. Shultz spoke with Wright on Thursday. (Story, Page 15.)

Fitzwater said Wright's discussions with Ortega were a departure from the approach agreed upon in the Guatemala peace plan.

'On the Same Team'

But Wright said he did tell Shultz about the meetings with Ortega. He said the secretary's response was: "Fine, good, I hope it works; I hope things go well."

"I like to hope we're on the same team," Wright said.

Wright told reporters after he returned to the Capitol from the talks that he has no official capacity in the Nicaraguan peace efforts. "I have not invited myself into this situation. Whatever I've done has been by invitation. I do not aspire to any role except as a friend and someone who wants the peace proposal to work," he said.

Meanwhile, a Contra leader, Alfredo Cesar, said on NBC-TV's "Today" show that he thinks that Ortega would have to disband the national directorate of the ruling Sandinista party to comply with the peace plan.

"I don't think it is feasible if the party remains as a Leninist party with a politburo," Cesar said. He also questioned the need for Ortega to meet with the cardinal in Washington, since they both live in Managua and met there earlier in the week. "I don't know what has changed between Monday and today," Cesar said.

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