President Daniel Ortega said today the Sandinista government would accept a June 6 deadline to sign the Contadora peace treaty if the United States has "totally stopped its aggression" against Nicaragua by that date.
Ortega, reading an official communique at a dawn press conference, repeated in a more positive tone statements the Nicaraguan government made during meetings in Panama last weekend of the Contadora group of Latin nations seeking peace in Central America.
Foreign Minister Miguel d'Escoto said in Panama that his government could not accept a deadline to sign an agreement calling for arms reductions in the midst of the warfare by U.S.-backed rebels to overthrow the Sandinistas.
"If the aggression of the United States does not cease, Nicaragua declares that under no circumstances would it agree to disarm itself in the face of the United States," Ortega said.
Ortega expressed support for the negotiating efforts by the four Contadora countries, the four-nation Latin "Support Group" and the five Central American republics. He also accepted an invitation by the Contadora group to "immediately reinitiate" negotiations of still unresolved points concerning arms reduction and control and military maneuvers.
[Elliott Abrams, assistant secretary of state for inter-American affairs, said in a telephone interview in Washington that he saw nothing new in Ortega's statement.]
Ortega rejected modifications to the original Contadora proposal introduced in 1984 by the U.S. allies in Central America. The changes, which Ortega described as U.S.-initiated, provide for a continuation of military maneuvers and call for immediate disarmament. He said the original draft treaty, which Nicaragua agreed to sign in 1984, was "sabotaged and rejected by the United States."
He called for immediate formation of border control forces on the Costa Rican border, which the two countries have already agreed upon, and expressed Nicaragua's desire to form a similar commission for the border with Honduras.