A week-long Security Councial debate on Nicaragua's charge that the United States is instigating rebel attacks across the Honduran border ended today with neither a resolution nor a meeting of the minds.
Honduras and Nicaragua each expressed a desire for a negotiated settlement, but offered different terms.
Nicaraguan Deputy Foreign Minister Victor Hugo Tinoco repeated his offer of a meeting between the leaders of the two countries, with "impartial witnesses" present from other Latin American states.
Honduran representative Enrique Ortez Colindres said such a dialogue--advocated by Mexico and Venezuela--would have to be "adequately prepared." Instead, he backed a proposal by the Dominican Republic for a meeting of the five Central American republics, to work out regional as well as bilateral problems.
At the Organization of American States in Washington, Honduran Foreign Minister Edgardo Paz Barnica reiterated a proposal made a year ago for a plan to limit the amount of weapons flowing into Central America. He denied that Honduras "is a base of operations for the Nicaraguan insurgents."
Some western diplomats at the United Nations said that the Security Council debate, in which 55 nations spoke, resulted in the diplomatic isolation of the United States.
Only Honduras and El Salvador echoed U.S. claims that the Nicaraguan charge of intervention was a "myth," while a number of friendly states--including Mexico, France, Cyprus, Pakistan and Panama--lent credence to the Nicaraguan charges of American involvement with the insurgents.
In Washington, State Department spokesman Alan Romberg said, "we have won support from a number of countries," but added: "We are disappointed in the position adopted by some speakers."
"Nicaragua got good diplomatic mileage out of it, and international support that it could sell back home," said one Latin American ambassador at the United Nations.
He suggested that some formula for promoting negotiations might have been worked out by the 15-nation council, were it not for the fact that this month's president, Britain, has "awkward" relations with the key parties because of last year's Falklands crisis.
Diplomats noted that the Honduran proposal to include representatives of Guatemala, Costa Rica and El Salvador in talks would leave the Sandinista government at a disadvantage, and would achieve Washington's objective of equating the insurgencies and interventions in Nicaragua and El Salvador.
Latin American diplomats, including those whose countries back bilateral talks, said the idea of a regional conference on all Central American issues appeared to be gaining favor among their governments.
At the conclusion of the debate, the council president, Sir John Thomson of Britain, proposed that U.N. Secretary General Javier Perez de Cuellar actively promote "a conference to consider the problems of Central America in which other Latin American states might be asked to participate."
Perez de Cuellar, a Peruvian, attempted to mediate between Honduras and Nicaragua last fall, but his offer of "good offices" made little progress after his initial success in holding a meeting in his office between the foreign ministers of the two countries.
The Honduran representative embraced the British proposal today, but Nicaragua's Tinoco was more cautious. He said he was "open to a possible role for the Security Council or any other U.N. body," but that a role for Latin American foreign ministers in such talks would be important.
Tinoco told reporters after the council adjourned that if bilateral negotiations remained unacceptable to Honduras, "we are ready to go to another forum." He refused to be more precise.
The U.S. delegation made no statement at the close of the debate, although one had been expected, and Tinoco finished by charging that "U.S. plans for the overthrow of Nicaragua are unchanged."
The council adjourned without setting another meeting date, but no additional sessions were anticipated unless the fighting becomes more intense.