Leaders Affirm Central America Pact Deadline

From Times Wire Services

Central American leaders have made no moves to postpone next week’s deadline for implementing a regional peace plan, in spite of lack of progress in truce talks in Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala.

The region’s five foreign ministers ended a two-day meeting here late Wednesday, issuing a joint statement that repeats the peace accord’s Nov. 5 deadline for the five major points of the plan to go into effect in all countries. The statement did not say how this was to come about.

The peace plan calls for cease-fires, amnesties, democratic reforms and an end to outside aid for guerrilla organizations. It also requires nations not to allow their territories to be used by groups trying to overthrow the constituted governments of other nations.


Stalled Efforts

With one week to go before the plan’s scheduled implementation, efforts to set up cease-fires in El Salvador, Nicaragua and Guatemala appear to be stalled.

On Thursday, El Salvador’s Marxist-led guerrillas called off peace talks with the government of President Jose Napoleon Duarte, blaming it for the killing of a prominent human rights campaigner.

Talks between the Guatemalan government and rebels broke off earlier this month with no progress, but Guatemala’s Congress on Wednesday night approved an amnesty law, effective Nov. 5, that offers a pardon to guerrillas who lay down their arms.

In Nicaragua so far, the peace plan, signed Aug. 7 by the presidents of the five Central American nations, has led to a limited political opening but no peace talks between the Sandinista government and U.S.-backed Contras fighting the government in the countryside.

Scattered Zones

The Sandinistas have declared partial, unilateral cease-fires in four tiny, scattered zones of the nation, but the Contras refused to take them seriously because they were not negotiated.

The peace plan does not specifically oblige the nations fighting guerrilla wars to hold talks with rebel combatants, but leaders of all of the Central American countries except Nicaragua have declared that such talks are indispensable to achieve any effective truce or lasting peace.


Despite considerable arm-twisting from its neighbors during the meeting just ended here, Nicaragua reiterated its refusal to hold talks with the Contra leadership.

President Oscar Arias Sanchez of Costa Rica, who won the Nobel Peace Prize for drafting the initial version of the Aug. 7 peace plan, said that the peace process is heading for an impasse because of the Nicaraguan government’s rejection of talks with the rebels.

Honduras Criticized

On another point at issue, Honduras has taken no steps to prevent its territory from being used as a haven by the Contras.

At a final news conference, Foreign Minister Carlos Lopez Contreras of Honduras strongly hinted that his country would make no serious effort to crack down on the Contras as long as the Sandinistas refuse to negotiate with them.

Yet even though the ultimate objectives of the Central American accord appeared to be as remote as ever after the meeting, several diplomats spoke hopefully of moving quickly toward implementation.

“We have kept the accord alive,” Foreign Minister Ricardo Acevedo Peralta of El Salvador told reporters in reference to the move to adhere to the original Nov. 5 deadline.