President Reagan officially gave up the fight for more military aid for the Nicaraguan Contras today but with the proviso that if the Sandinistas threaten the rebels, he will call Congress back in session to try again.
In a brief statement issued at the White House, Reagan said, “Our policy in Nicaragua remains the same: freedom for the people of Nicaragua, restoration of democratic institutions, and peace and stability for all of Central America.”
At the same time, Reagan made clear what his aides have been indicating for a week--that the Administration has decided not to make a final attempt during Reagan’s term to free military aid for the rebels.
White House spokesman Marlin Fitzwater rejected suggestions that Reagan is backing off aid to the Contras and has written the “last chapter” of his efforts to depose the Sandinista government.
“The final chapter is not over,” Fitzwater said. “The resistance is still there. The President will stay with this to the end.”
In explaining the apparent retreat, Fitzwater said: “The conclusion was we didn’t have the time, we probably didn’t have the votes” to win on Capitol Hill.”
“We’re a long way from backing off,” he contended.