BUSH MUST EXPLAIN IRAN-CONTRA ROLE, SAYS TOP SENATE DEMOCRAT

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Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell (D) of Maine says that once the trial of Oliver North is over he believes President Bush ``should and will make a full explanation'' of his trip to Honduras in March 1985 to meet with Honduran President Roberto Suazo C'ordova. A National Security Council document released recently in the North trial suggests that then-Vice-President Bush was aware that Honduras was being secretly rewarded for aiding the contras when he met with President C'ordova.

Senator Mitchell says that when he and fellow Maine Senator William Cohen (R) wrote a book on the Iran-contra hearings, ``Men of Zeal,'' he was unaware of Mr. Bush's trip to Honduras. During the 1987 Iran-contra hearings committee members saw no ``compelling evidence that [Bush] knew of the covert resupply operation in Central America,'' Mitchell told the Monitor.

But the Senate's top Democrat refuses to rush to judgment on what effect information released during the Iran-contra trial will have on the Bush presidency. Mitchell has asked members of his staff to determine whether documents released during the North trial were not made available to the congressional committee in the Iran-contra hearings.

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``Before I form a judgment,'' he says,``I want to see the documents myself and review them. Secondly, hear what if any explanation the President chooses to make. And then I will make a judgment and be prepared to comment.''

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