The Bush administration plans to ask Congress to extend aid to the Nicaraguan Contras in Honduras until at least February 1990, despite a new regional peace agreement that calls for an end to the rebel group, The New York Times reported Monday.
The administration would like Congress to finance the Honduras-based guerrillas until Nicaragua holds scheduled elections on Feb. 25, 1990, the Times said, citing unnamed White House and State Department officials.If the elections are held in a "free and fair" manner, and if Nicaragua takes other steps toward creating a democracy, the White House will then help the Contras to relocate, the sources said.
The State Department sources estimated the cost of financing the rebels through February at $49 million to $52 million, although the administration sources said the president had not yet decided on the size of his request.
Congress, Honduras and other Central American nations are not expected to support the administration's move to continue funding the rebels, the Times said.
Under the terms of a Central American peace plan agreed to last month, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala and Nicaragua have until May 16, 1989, to come up with a plan for relocating the Contras, some of whom would like to return to their homeland.
The State Department sources said Secretary of State James Baker has been meeting with members of Congress attempting to build support for the administration's request.