New impetus for Hemisphere talks
With the Salvadoran election over, the Reagan administration can be expected to come under mounting pressure to find a negotiated solution to the revolutionary turmoil in Central America.
Up to now there has been little sign that any of the protagonists were yet ready to abandon their strongly held positions.
Washington sees as the key factor the attitude of Nicaragua and Cuba toward El Salvador. Months ago it laid down as an essential condition for warmer relations with Nicaragua an end to that country's support of the Salvadoran insurgency, especially the supply of arms through Nicaraguan territory (presumably from Cuba).
Reagan administration officials made it plain that they were determined that nothing should interfere with the March 28 vote in El Salvador. Nor, when that was over, would they accept what Secretary of State Alexander M. Haig Jr. called last week ''a negotiated distribution of power over the heads of the people of El Salvador.''
Nonetheless, even before the Salvadorans went to the polls, the reports had begun to pour in of contacts between the various parties.
Gen. Vernon Walters, it was leaked, had acted as a secret US emissary to Cuba in early March. Mexican Foreign Minister Jorge Castaneda had shuttled very visibly between Washington, Nicaragua, and Cuba.
At the United Nations, Nicaraguan leader Daniel Ortega Saavedra hit out at the US March 25, but said his country and Cuba were ready to negotiate unconditionally. And Assistant Secretary of State Thomas O. Enders was said to be considering a meeting with a senior Nicaraguan official in Mexico City. Mexico, in fact, announced March 26 that a meeting would take place in April.
But no sooner had the word gotten out when the State Department denied that any such talks were set.
Despite all the maneuvering, it is by no means clear either that the Cubans and Nicaraguans are ready to drop their backing for Central American insurgencies, or that the Reagan administration is prepared to talk about anything else.