President Reagan's "peace plan" is nothing but a threat to "continue to finance his thugs"--the contras --unless the Sandinista government agrees to a cease-fire, Nicaraguan Foreign Minister Miguel D'Escoto said today.
Reagan brushed off Nicaragua's rejection of his plan. "They don't want to give up the cushy spot that they've got right now," Reagan said. He added that he hoped Nicaragua's Central American neighbors "will begin leaning on them" to accept.
At an impromptu news conference as he left the White House for California today, Reagan was asked about D'Escoto's earlier statement that the Administration's call for a cease-fire and negotiations with the contra rebels amounted to "a declaration of war."
"They were saying that before they even heard what the plan was," Reagan said. "I understand it. They don't want to give up the cushy spot that they've got right now." He predicted that "the people of Nicaragua will be highly supportive of it."
But D'Escoto, in a series of television interviews from Managua, dismissed the plan.
"What President Reagan has said is, 'You drop dead or else I kill you,' " D'Escoto said. "If you do not cry uncle by June 1, he will continue war against our people, continue to finance his thugs to murder and kill our people and destroy our countryside."
Reagan's plan, adapted from a March 2 proposal made by the contras, would impose a cease-fire until June 1, set up talks between the two sides to be mediated by the Roman Catholic Church, and provide U.S. aid to the rebels, but only for humanitarian purposes. (Story on Page 4.)
D'Escoto said the proposal was prompted by Reagan's inability to persuade Congress to approve $14 million in military aid to the rebels.
"This is not the contras' war," he said. "This is the United States' war."
D'Escoto said the contras have shown no real interest in negotiating, citing a recent interview with opposition leader Arturo Cruz in which he said the rebel struggle would continue.
D'Escoto described Cruz as the "outstanding apologist for the covert war" and said, "It is not for them (rebels) to speak of peace. . . . They are hired by the CIA."