TEGUCIGALPA, HONDURAS, SEPT. 3 -- The Honduran foreign minister today acknowledged the presence of anti-Sandinista rebels in Honduras and said his government would comply with a section of the Guatemala peace accord that would forbid Nicaraguan insurgent operations in Honduras.
But while the rebels, or contras, are being more discreet in their Honduran operations, they show no signs of moving their rear bases out of Honduras.
Speaking at a press conference, Honduran Foreign Minister Carlos Lopez Contreras contradicted his statements of two weeks ago in San Salvador when he flatly denied any contra presence in Honduras.
Today he called it "a reality of life" that the contras use Honduran territory, but he maintained that the rebel presence was not authorized by the Honduran government.
The previous Honduran administration had denied the presence of the rebels, but after President Jose Azcona Hoyo took office the government admitted that the rebels use Honduran territory. However, the current government has emphasized that the contras do so without Honduran authority and that Honduras does not have the resources to police the long border with Nicaragua.
Part of the Guatemala peace accord, signed by the region's five presidents Aug. 7, prohibits governments from allowing their territory to be used by groups attempting to destabilize neighboring countries.
The accord, scheduled to take effect Nov. 7, also calls for the region's governments to allow democratic freedoms, for dialogue between governments and their opponents and for cease-fires.
Lopez Contreras said that Honduras would permit an international verification commission formed as part of the agreement to inspect Honduran territory and that the verification procedures would be worked out at a meeting scheduled for Sept. 17 and 18 in Managua.
In an effort to lower their profile in Honduras, the rebels have almost finished moving their strategic headquarters from the Las Vegas salient in south-central Honduras to a more remote location on the Honduran side of the Coco River, which forms the border between Honduras and Nicaragua, near San Andres de Bocay, Nicaragua, according to rebel and diplomatic sources.
The same sources say the rebels are in the process of moving their logistical operations from Aguacate in central Honduras to the Swan Islands, a Honduran archipelago in the Caribbean, about 200 miles north of the Honduran mainland.
In a related matter, a meeting of Central American vice presidents scheduled to discuss the formation of a Central American parliament, as called for by the Guatemala accord, was postponed until Sept. 11. A spokesman for Azcona said the postponement was requested by Guatemala because not all representatives of the five countries could attend.