For the second time this spring, Nicaragua and the United States are crossing swords at the Security Council. But this week's duel is a little more low key than the acrimonious bouts of March.
Nicaraguan Foreign Minister Miguel d'Escoto Brockman is pressing Security Council members to adopt a resolution calling for an end to what he calls the US ''undeclared war'' against Nicaragua. No matter how moderately such a resolution might be drafted, it is certain to be vetoed by the US, according to informed sources here.
Nicaragua went to the Council after President Reagan told reporters May 4 that it was ''all right'' with him if Congress wanted to require that US aid to Nicaraguan ''freedom fighters'' be ''overt instead of covert.''
This statement worries some United States allies as well as the Nicaraguans. A European ambassador says: ''If governments get into the business of encouraging insurgents in other countries, we would soon be faced with international chaos. Not only does this violate the UN Charter but it may be a double-edged sword.''
Basically, the Nicaraguan and US diplomatic positions in the UN debate remain unchanged. Nicaragua favors separate bilateral talks between itself and the US on the one hand, and between itself and Honduras on the other. Tensions with Honduras are rising because anti-Sandinista rebels operate out of bases in Honduras. Nicaragua has called for a United Nations role in policing the Nicaraguan-Honduran border.
The US insists that all regional problems should be addressed simultaneously and favors a regional discussion, preferably through the Organization of American States.
Nicaragua also supports the efforts of the il8l,0,22l,4p''Contadora group'' (Mexico, Venezuela, Panama, and Colombia) aimed at settling the region's problems through peaceful compromise. But the group has lately appeared somewhat divided, with Mexico leaning toward Nicaragua and Venezuela leaning the other way.
''The US has been trying hard to persuade us that the problem of Nicaragua is fundamentally an East-West problem. Mexico believes that 80 percent of the problem is local - rooted in social and economical causes - and 20 percent of it is East-West. Venezuela thinks more in terms of 50-50 in this respect,'' says a member of the Contadora group.
The group is meeting in Panama this week and is expected to put forward a three-tier approach that may offer something to all sides:
* A twin set of bilateral talks (Nicaragua-Honduras and Nicaragua-US).
* A trilateral meeting (Nicaragua-Honduras-Salvador).
* A multilateral meeting with all the Central American states represented (under the auspices of the Contadora group).
''Whether this triple forum for resolving the region's disputes will be acceptable or not to Nicaragua and to the US will depend on their governments' ulterior motives,'' says a Central American diplomat. ''Does Nicaragua want to export its revolution or only to consolidate it at home? Does the US want only to harass or does it want to overthrow the Sandinista regime? These questions are really at the heart of the matter,'' he says.
In private talks here Latin American diplomats argue that although the Sandinistas are not popular in Latin America, US interventionism is abhorred.
''While there is some sympathy for US apprehensions concerning its security, there is also a feeling that the danger posed by Nicaragua is being exaggerated in Washington,'' says a South American representative.