Rep. Clarence D. Long (D-Md.), chairman of a key subcommittee controlling foreign aid funds, insisted yesterday that President Reagan pursue political rather than military solutions in El Salvador and said he plans to arrange a meeting between Salvadoran guerrilla groups and Richard B. Stone, the administration's special envoy to Central America.
After a 45-minute meeting with Reagan and other ranking officials at the White House, Long broadly suggested that he will try to block the provision of additional military funds for El Salvador unless he is satisfied that the administration is seeking "in good faith" a negotiated settlement of the Salvadoran civil war.
Referring to legislative authority over the purse strings, Long said, "We have the money, and I believe in the golden rule, that is, the gold makes the rules."
Long is chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee on foreign operations, whose members were called to the White House to discuss the administration's foreign assistance bill.
White House spokesman Larry Speakes said after the meeting that Reagan reaffirmed his view that, while he favors "a dialogue" with leftist insurgents "leading toward an election," the president ruled out any negotiations intended to lead to a sharing of power.
Long said he, too, is not pushing for "power-sharing" negotiations but, in comments to reporters, he seemed to be calling for negotiations beyond those approved by the administration and the Salvadoran government.
Earlier this year, Long's insistence on emphasizing political solutions in Central America led to Stone's appointment as special emissary. The former Florida senator is due to return today from his initial 12-day trip to the area.
The State Department would not say whether Stone will meet representatives of Salvadoran guerrilla groups, which asked last Thursday for a "direct dialogue" with him "to discuss ways to achieve a political solution" to the conflict in El Salvador.
"The guerrilla leaders have come to me, and I will make sure they meet with Mr. Stone," Long said.
Asked whether he will oppose further funds for El Salvador until such a meeting occurs, Long replied, "That's right ... at least I will not agree to any money until I am satisfied on that question."
Several recent developments, including ouster of the State Department's El Salvador team--Assistant Secretary of State Thomas O. Enders and Ambassador to El Salvador Deane R. Hinton--have been interpreted as part of a U.S. policy shift toward greater military emphasis.
But Reagan denied in yesterday's meeting that the personnel change signals a policy shift.
Rep. David R. Obey (D-Wis.) said Reagan described Enders and Hinton as "two pitchers in a long-inning game, who had to be relieved."
Obey said that he expressed objection to a large increase in overseas military funds at a time of budget austerity and that he particularly objected to sending U.S. military medical teams to El Salvador "while you oppose health care coverage of the unemployed in my back yard."
Outside the White House, Long quoted Reagan as having agreed to pursue a "two-track" approach in El Salvador, relying on military and political efforts to end the civil war.
His statement caused a stir among reporters because Enders is reported to have lost favor at the White House by espousing a "two-track" plan, although details of his proposal have not been revealed.
According to Obey, Reagan said, "A two-track policy, by all means, but we will not let anyone shoot his way into power."
The State Department, meanwhile, praised the Salvadoran government for offering to meet guerrilla representatives to discuss participation in the new round of national elections there.
Spokesman Alan Romberg said the offer, made last Saturday by the government-appointed Peace Commission, is "indicative of a government attempting to bring the armed opposition and their political front into . . . the 'Salvadoran family.' "
As a show of good faith, Romberg said, the government has released more than 425 political prisoners--more than half of those incarcerated, he said--instituted amnesty for guerrillas and guerrilla sympathizers willing to forswear violence, begun work to reopen the National University and is reviewing the decree that created a state of siege in El Salvador.
Guerrilla groups have refused to participate in the elections, and in March, 1982, guerrilla forces tried actively to prevent Salvadoran citizens from voting.