Bush Denies Role in Deal on Contra Aid : Never Linked Support for Rebels, Honduras Aid, President Says

From Associated Press

President Bush today heatedly denied that he ever told the president of Honduras that there would be expedited American aid in exchange for that country’s aid to the Nicaraguan rebels.

Standing in the White House Rose Garden with Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, Bush for the first time publicly addressed head-on the question of whether as vice president he participated in a purported Reagan Administration plan to make quid pro quo deals with Latin American countries to get help for the Contras.

The President had refused to answer the question directly in recent weeks as the Iran-Contra trial of fired Ronald Reagan Administration White House aide Oliver L. North was under way.

Response to Reporters

But Bush noted that the North trial jury was about to deliver its verdict, and he responded emphatically when reporters asked whether he had assured Honduran President Roberto Suazo in March, 1985, that the Administration would reward his country for continued help to the Contras.


“There was no quid pro quo, “ Bush asserted. “Everybody that attended the meeting says that there was no quid pro quo. And for those who say there was, the onus is on them.”

The President complained that “there has been much needless, mindless speculation about my word of honor. And I’ve answered it now, definitively.”

New questions arose about Bush’s role in the Iran-Contra affair last month when the government consented to the release of a 42-page finding of facts in connection with the sales of arms to Iran and the diversion of proceeds to the Nicaraguan rebels.

These documents contained memos and other documents suggesting that Bush had acted as an intermediary in ensuring the Honduran leaders that their assistance to the Contras would be rewarded by expedited U.S. economic and military aid.

Bush maintained today that records of his meeting in Honduras with Suazo “demonstrate that there was no quid pro quo. . . . No implication, no quid pro quo, direct or indirect from me to the president of Honduras at that meeting.”

He said that in the aftermath of the North trial, “I will insist that the congressional committees, now that the jury is in, be briefed thoroughly on the confidential cables (describing the meeting.)”