Foreign ministers of four Central American countries concluded two days of talks here today with a solid vote of support for the peace treaty drafted by the four nations of the Contadora group.
The ministers said they have drawn up a list of suggested modifications to the technical aspects of the treaty, which they will present to the Contadora ministers at their meeting expected to take place in November.
It was unclear whether the results would be acceptable to Nicaragua, which accepted the draft last month on condition that it not be modified.
When Honduran Foreign Minister Edgardo Paz Barnica called for the just concluded sessions here to discuss modifications to the draft, Nicaragua refused to attend, charging that the meeting constituted a U.S. effort to sabotage the Contadora search for regional peace.
In a communique today, the foreign ministers of Costa Rica, Honduras and El Salvador and the deputy foreign minister of Guatemala said their talks were "inspired by a sincere desire for peace among their peoples and governments and devoted to promoting the negotiating process sponsored by the Contadora group." Mexico, Panama, Colombia and Venezuela make up that group.
The two-day meeting reviewed ways of clarifying the draft's chapters dealing with verification and control of arms purchases, potentially bellicose troop movements and foreign military advisers, and with violations of human rights.
This week the Contadora group announced that it would be willing to consider technical modifications "as long as they do not modify the balance achieved in the text."
At a press conference, reporters asked if it was true that the other four Central American governments were prepared to sign the treaty until Nicaragua unexpectedly announced its willingness. Honduran Foreign Minister Paz Barnica rejected that view and assailed a local liberal newspaper, El Tiempo, for promoting it.
Interviewed by telephone, an official of a Contadora country said a first draft of the treaty was delivered to all five Central American countries on June 9.
"From that date until the final version was delivered on Sept. 7 we had many meetings to incorporate everyone's point of view. The act changed appreciably as we sought to incorporate each country's commentaries," he said.
"We have advanced by stages. The first stage -- negotiations -- has ended, in our opinion. It has always been clearly understood by all the parties involved that a state of perfecting the control, supervision and execution mechanisms would follow the signing of the document.
"Whatever tends to perfect the act will be very welcome," the Contadora country official said, but major modifications would be unacceptable.
This official said that signing of the document was a necessary demonstration of "good faith and political will. Without political will we will get nowhere," he said.
However, Salvadoran Foreign Minister Jorge Eduardo Tenorio said that "the technical aspects cannot come after signing. Every aspect must be foreseen before signing; otherwise we will end up with a lyrical statement that does not establish how the arms buildup is to be stopped, for example."
Tenorio said President Jose Napoleon Duarte's statement this week that "the Contadora group will not solve anything" had been misinterpreted, and referred only to a suggestion that the group help mediate recent talks between Duarte and the Salvadoran guerrillas.