WORLD : Arias Says Bush Backs Peace Plan

<i> From Times wire services </i>

Costa Rican President Oscar Arias Sanchez said today that President Bush has brought a new attitude to the White House by putting the United States firmly behind Central American peace efforts.

“I breathe a new atmosphere, a new environment because I have no doubt that Mr. Bush and the Bush Administration is going to sincerely support the Esquipulas accord, the Arias (peace) plan,” the Costa Rican president told reporters after a 50-minute meeting with Bush. “I think they are quite sincere, and they are doing what they are doing in good faith,” he added.

Arias, who won the 1987 Nobel Peace Prize for authoring the Central American peace plan, was regarded with disdain by the Reagan Administration.