Secretary of State George P. Shultz and House Speaker Jim Wright (D-Tex.) said yesterday they have declared a truce in their feud over Wright's intervention in Central American diplomacy.
Former Democratic Party chairman Robert S. Strauss had arranged a meeting between the two in Wright's office yesterday.
Shultz told reporters that he and Wright have put their "little tiff" behind them, one day after Wright's stormy meeting with President Reagan, Shultz and other administration officials who criticized Wright for meeting with Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega and Cardinal Miguel Obando y Bravo last week to promote peace talks.
Wright, at a Capitol news conference with Shultz and Strauss, said he and Shultz "didn't talk about anything in the past" during their private meeting. Instead, he said, they focused on areas of agreement that led to the drafting of a six-point manifesto aimed at bringing about successful implementation of the peace plan signed Aug. 7 by the presidents of five Central American countries.
Wright had charged that some administration officials were "literally terrorized that peace might break out" in Central America and that some regional leaders apparently prefer dealing with him because they have "the unfortunate impression that the administration treats them as inferiors."
But in his statement with Shultz, Wright said, "Neither of us wants to create unnecessary problems. We want to work together to bring about solutions."
Wright apparently bowed to one of the administration's major concerns by agreeing to language stressing that efforts toward a peace agreement "should be concentrated in Central America and continue to be guided primarily by Central Americans."
The administration wants the Nicaraguan government to engage in direct cease-fire negotiations with the contra rebels. The presidents of El Salvador and Guatemala have agreed to face-to-face meetings with rebel forces.
White House officials last week refused to meet with Ortega, who was attending a week-long assembly of the Organization of American States here. They insisted that he deal directly with the contras before the U.S. government intervenes.
Administration officials contend that Wright undercut their position by holding separate meetings last week with contra leaders and with Ortega and Cardinal Obando, who has been urged by Ortega and the contras to mediate their cease-fire talks.
At a meeting Friday attended by Wright, Ortega gave Obando his government's 11-point plan for a month-long cease-fire starting Dec. 5. Wright insisted he had not forced himself into the talks but merely had acceded to requests for help because he thinks that Obando is the only person capable of mediating successfully between the Nicaraguan factions.
But following Wright's meeting at the White House on Monday, White House spokesman Marlin Fitzwater said Reagan had expressed concern over Wright's role "in getting involved in what should be essentially a matter between the Sandinista government and the Nicaraguan resistance."
In their joint communique yesterday, Shultz and Wright strongly encouraged Obando to become the mediator, adding that if the cardinal's efforts lead to serious negotiations, "The United States will be ready to meet directly in a regional setting with representatives of the countries of the region."
Wright and Shultz credited Strauss, a prominent Democratic lawyer and Carter administration official, with bringing them together and ending what had become an explosive power struggle that some felt was damaging the peace process and foreclosing the administration's ability to obtain additional contra aid from Congress.
Shultz and Strauss discussed the deteriorating relations over lunch at the State Department yesterday, according to Shultz. "Both of us felt the important thing now is too look ahead and look at things we agreed upon," Shultz said. After lunch, Shultz spoke with Wright by telephone and arranged an early afternoon meeting at the Capitol to iron out their differences.
Wright and Shultz entered the press room like comrades in arms and easily bantered with reporters. In discussing Strauss' role in the reconciliation, Wright said, "I hope Obando does as well as Mr. Strauss has done."