Reagan preparing contra pullout if peace plan succeeds, paper says
Despite vows never to abandon the Nicaraguan contra rebels, the Reagan administration is drawing up plans to withdraw the rebels from combat if a Central American peace plan succeeds, according to a newspaper report. Pullout plans were ordered after new assessments of the Aug. 7 peace agreement suggested it may in fact bring about a cease-fire, according to a story published yesterday in the Miami Herald. If that were to happen, Congress probably would not approve more aid and the Central Intelligence Agency would have to assist the contras in getting out of combat safely, unidentified US officials told the Herald.
An administration official who deals with the contras said that with a successful cease-fire he would expect most rebels to return to Nicaragua, with the rest moving to large Nicaraguan enclaves in Miami, New Orleans, and San Franscisco.
``The idea would be to get the contras off our payroll and back in Nicaragua or the United States as productive citizens,'' one official said.
The White House, the State Department, and the CIA declined official comment. But one White House official said the administration was not drawing contingency plans to withdraw the contras. A State Department official said that even if such plans existed, they could not be forced on the contra leadership, which ``has to decide for itself what it wants to do.''