July 20, 1983

As you know, yesterday in Managua, Daniel Ortega, the coordinator of the Sandinista Directorate, issued a statement. Our response to that is we welcome any sincere and verifiable proposal to lessen tensions in Central America. Taking Mr. Ortega at his word, we believe the Nicaraguan proposal is a positive step in that it acknowledges the regional nature of the problem and the need to address external support for insurgencies and terrorist groups.

The proposal still contains a number of serious shortcomings. For example, the proposal seeks to put the insurgents in El Salvador on the same level as the democratically elected government. It fails to take into account the need for true democracy as a means to resolve internal problems of the countries of the region. It does not deal with Nicaragua's military buildup, and there are no clearly articulated provisions for effective verification.

Nonetheless, we would hope that the Nicaraguan proposal, along with those put forth by other countries of the region, would be considered, refined, and expanded as necessary at the next meeting of the Contadora nine, scheduled for later this month.

Note: Deputy Press Secretary Larry M. Speakes read the statement during his daily press briefing for reporters, which began at 12:30 p.m. in the Briefing Room at the White House.