NEW YORK — Central American foreign ministers, establishing an upbeat tone for next week's regional summit meeting, vowed Thursday to revive the dormant peace process but failed to agree on a mechanism for verifying the human rights and democratization provisions of the 1987 Arias plan.
Concluding a two-day meeting in New York, representatives of Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua fixed the agenda for the meeting of presidents scheduled to begin Monday in San Salvador. At a press conference, all five delegations agreed on the importance of renewing the 1987 plan initiated by President Oscar Arias Sanchez of Costa Rica.
Meanwhile, the U.S.-backed Nicaraguan Contras, seeking to regain a foothold in the diplomatic maneuvering, also circulated a new peace proposal of their own. A copy of the new offer, scheduled to be unveiled on Monday, was made available to The Times.
The proposal calls for "a negotiated political solution to the Nicaraguan crisis" after a new cease-fire agreement and provides a 30-day timetable for implementing most of its provisions.
The Contra plan calls on the Sandinista regime to allow all rebel troops back into Nicaragua, and to let them receive U.S. humanitarian aid there. Almost all Contra troops are now in Honduras, in part because the Sandinista government refused to allow the delivery of U.S. aid inside Nicaragua.
The Contra proposal also calls on the regime to lift all restrictions on freedom of speech, freedom of the press and freedom of assembly and to create a new constituent assembly to overhaul the constitution.
On the issue of verifying such freedoms, Nicaragua's leftist government and the U.S.-backed government of Honduras found themselves in a rare alliance at the United Nations. Both endorsed a plan to call on Amnesty International and other recognized human rights organizations to monitor the status of political, economic, social and cultural rights in the five countries. Guatemala and El Salvador, however, urged the creation of a special monitoring commission.
Nicaraguan Foreign Minister Miguel D'Escoto, in a comment endorsed by Salvadoran Foreign Minister Ricardo Acevedo Peralta, said that in regard to the need for verification, "there is no difference between us."
The United States has long accused Nicaragua of violating the democratization and human rights provisions of the Arias plan. The other four nations have frequently endorsed the U.S. criticism.
D'Escoto argued that existing groups have the expertise to investigate charges of human rights abuses. Acevedo said the established human rights groups are already at work in Central America but that "this is not enough."
Times staff writer Doyle McManus, in Washington, contributed to this story.