WASHINGTON — Costa Rican President Oscar Arias Sanchez charged the Soviet Union on Thursday with aiding leftist rebels in defiance of a Central American peace accord and urged President Reagan to press the issue with Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev at their Moscow summit meeting late next month.
Speaking to the annual meeting of the American Society of Newspaper Editors, Arias said he is "very disappointed" with Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard A. Shevardnadze. Arias, who won the 1987 Nobel Peace Prize for his work in arranging the Central American accord, said that Shevardnadze has denied to him that the Soviets are smuggling arms to leftist rebels in El Salvador and Guatemala.
"It is quite obvious that they are supporting, and Fidel Castro is also supporting, the guerrillas in El Salvador as well as in Guatemala," Arias said. "And it is also true that unless they decide to cut that support, we will be unable to reach peace" in the region.
"It is a contradiction to say on one hand that they support the Guatemala (peace) accord and on the other hand to keep sending arms to the guerrillas," he added.
A peace agreement signed by Arias and the four other Central America presidents in Esquipulas, Guatemala, last August called for an end to outside military aid to insurgents in Guatemala, Nicaragua and El Salvador.
The United States has ended arms shipments to Contras inside Nicaragua, where a cease-fire is in effect. Guerrilla attacks continue in the two other nations.
In a question-and-answer session with the editors, Arias said rebel wars in Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala have been fueled by East-West rivalries that only the superpowers can ease.
He urged Secretary of State George P. Shultz to meet with the region's foreign ministers before the Moscow summit to hear their views on U.S. and Soviet involvement in the region.
"I think that in the next summit Mr. Reagan will have to include in the agenda this item of Central America," Arias said. He turned his criticism on Reagan for waging economic war against Panamanian strongman Manuel A. Noriega instead of seeking a "negotiated solution" to bring democracy to that country. The U.S. economic campaign has been attacked in Central America as its impact spreads from Noriega's regime to the Panamanian public.
Arias also denounced the Sandinista government of Nicaragua for severely restricting shipments of newsprint to La Prensa, the major opposition newspaper.