The name of a Nicaraguan contra leader was incorrect in a front- page caption Thursday. Her name is Maria Azucena Ferrey. (Published 8/ 27/87) The names of two Nicaraguan contra leaders were misspelled in a front-page caption yesterday. They are Pedro Joaquin Chamorro and Alfredo Cesar. (Published 8/7/87)

President Reagan unveiled "a renewed diplomatic initiative" toward Nicaragua yesterday calling for a cease-fire and democratic reforms, but the "bipartisan effort" hailed by Reagan drew skepticism from liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans.

Reagan made a two-minute appearance before reporters at the White House to announce that he was sending the peace plan to the Central American foreign ministers meeting in Guatemala City this week. And he said the administration "has always supported regional diplomatic initiatives aimed at peace and democracy."

In Managua, Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega responded by repeating a demand for bilateral negotiations with the United States.

"I applaud this bipartisan effort in Congress," Reagan said, refusing to answer questions about the plan. Secretary of State George P. Shultz acknowledged "skepticism" among lawmakers, some of whom have claimed the plan is a new gambit by Reagan to win continued funding of the Nicaraguan contras. "It's not a ploy. It's not just a ploy. It's a genuine effort," Shultz said.

The new six-point plan calls for an immediate cease-fire between Nicaragua's Sandinista government and the contras and sets a Sept. 30 deadline for the Sandinistas to accept democratic reforms. It differs from the peace plan offered by Costa Rican President Oscar Arias in that the new initiative sets an immediate, specific timetable for various democratic changes within Nicaragua and it requires contra agreement for any cease-fire.

Shultz and other White House officials praised House Speaker Jim Wright (D-Tex.) for his backing of the initiative. However, other Democrats, while expressing support for efforts toward a negotiated settlement in Central America, said they would not specifically endorse the new plan. And Wright said he had made no commitment to support renewed contra aid if the peace plan fails. The question of contra aid is "anesthetically, surgically" separate from the peace initiative, he said.

Wright said one element of the peace initiative is that Reagan and Congress will stop attacking each other over the contra aid issue while negotiations are taking place. This agreement was included in a 21-point list of "understandings" that Reagan gave some congressional leaders at a meeting yesterday.

White House officials refused to comment on the list, but according to a copy made available to The Washington Post, one point says that if the plan is rejected or delayed by the Sandinistas within two weeks of its announcement, the president is "free to resume" his efforts to win military aid for the contras.

Sources said Wright told White House chief of staff Howard H. Baker Jr. yesterday that this was unacceptable to him and that Baker invited him to suggest something else.

While Wright said he backed the Reagan document, Senate Majority leader Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.) kept more distance. "We support the effort, a good faith effort, but not the document per se because there can be a good many interpretations" of its contents, Byrd said.

Byrd said he was "pleased to see the administration move away from a military solution for Central America and go the diplomatic route" but had problems with specific provisions in Reagan's plan, including a Sept. 30 deadline for negotiations, which he said is "unrealistic."

Byrd said Democrats "made it clear beyond any doubt we are not going to be snookered" into supporting contra aid if the new diplomatic initiative fails.

Other Democrats expressed suspicion of the president's motives in floating the peace initiative when he faces stiff opposition in Congress to continuing contra aid beyond Sept. 30, when fiscal 1987's $100 million in military assistance expires.

"Every time a contra aid vote comes up, they dangle something . . . and nothing happens," said Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), a leading opponent of military aid to the contras. Said Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), "The purpose of this plan is to score points with Congress, not to bring peace to Central America. It is an effort to rehabilitate a flawed and failed policy. It is a sham from beginning to end."

Sen. Christopher J. Dodd (D-Conn.) said, "Democrats make a very important distinction," supporting the idea of diplomatic efforts but "we do not endorse this document."

The plan also drew criticism from conservative Republicans, including a half-dozen senators who met late yesterday with Reagan and warned him that he was "giving up 60 days of momentum {for contra aid} and 60 days of holding the Democrats accountable . . . for nothing in return," according to Sen. William L. Armstrong (R-Colo.).

Armstrong said Reagan responded that he was not wavering in his support for the contras and will "beat the bushes" for contra aid this fall if the plan fails. Armstrong said, "We think someone sold the president of bill of goods."

Sen. Jesse Helms (N.C.), ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, criticized the plan as "dream-like" and potentially dangerous for the contras. He introduced legislation to provide $300 million in aid to the contras after Oct. 1.

The Reagan plan received mild approval from leaders of the Nicaraguan resistance, who said they had just been given the details a few minutes before a meeting with Reagan. "We haven't had the time to analyze it in detail," said contra leader Alfredo Cesar. "Now, we welcome the initiative, we like it, we support it."Staff writer John M. Goshko contributed to this report.