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Arias chalks up influence to `stubbornness'

What made you the first politician able to make all five Central American Presidents agree on a peace treaty? My mother told me when I was a boy that I was very stubborn. Now people use kinder words: they praise President Arias's tenacity, his perseverance. But it's the same stubbornness of 40 years ago, that convinced my colleagues that we have a historic responsibility not to fail.

What does your Nobel Peace Prize mean for the plan?

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The principal obstacle is a lack of tolerance, of flexibility, of a capacity to give ground. I see my Nobel prize as a stimulus to the five Presidents to put their best will into winning peace for the region.

Why have you insisted that the Nicaraguan government talk to the contras, which your plan does not demand, but not said anything about Honduras allowing the contras to use its territory?

The government in Managua should take the first conciliatory step, because it is in the most difficult position.

We all know the difficult economic situation that the Nicaraguan people are living through, and what's more, young Nicaraguans are dying on the battlefield every day. It seems to me inhuman not to make a very great effort to break this impasse.

Costa Rica's peace initiative did not require any government to talk to insurgent forces because we knew the Sandinistas would reject direct negotiations with the contras. What we need today is a bridge.

A flexible attitude is required from the United States, from Managua, from Cuba, from everyone involved in the Central American conflict. I've been insisting that ... an intermediary should hold an indirect dialogue, and I've suggested [Nicaragua's Miguel] Cardinal Obando y Bravo.

If we find a solution to the war in Nicaragua, we will know the future of the contras, and then Honduras will be able to define the role its territory will play. I think that has to be negotiated.

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Do you think the Sandinistas' moves so far have been cosmetic, aimed at killing further US aid to the contras, and that nothing will really change in Nicaragua?

I am obliged to believe in the good faith and sincerity of those who signed the Guatemala pact. We all knew what we were signing, and I can't conceive that we won't comply with what we agreed. I would be the first to denounce anything that I thought showed a lack of will to comply, or a lack of sincerity.

But let me say that no one is thinking that Nicaragua has to become a democracy like Costa Rica's by January. None of the other countries have democracies like ours either.

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