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Bush Says Noriega Receives Libyan Aid

April 15, 1988

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Vice President George Bush said today that Panamanian strongman Manuel Noriega is receiving millions of dollars in support from Libya. He said this is one reason why Noriega has lasted so long.

Bush, in a speech to the American Society of Newspaper Editors, said his information was based on ″several reliable sources.″

″Noriega should go and Noriega will go,″ Bush told his audience.

The vice president also reiterated his claim that he did not know about Noriega’s alleged involvement in drug trafficking until the Panamanian leader was indicted in this country.

Former television minister Pat Robertson, whose campaign for the Republican presidential nomination has all but faded away, told the same forum that he still hoped his supporters could play a key role in the Republican convention in August.

″I would like to energize″ them for the convention, he said.

However, Robertson acknowledged that ″George Bush will probably have things his own way″ at the gathering.

Robertson called Bush’s overwhelming support for the GOP nomination a direct reflection of President Reagan’s popularity, calling Bush ″Reagan II.″

″It’s somewhat impossible to defeat a vice president of your own party,″ said Robertson.

Even so, Robertson gave no indication that he plans to relinquish his role as Bush’s only remaining GOP rival.

In a speech that focused on foreign policy, Bush cited the administration’s efforts to ″protect civilian rule in Panama against Noreiga.″

″So far he has stood up to the considerable economic pressures we have applied, and I can tell you one reason why,″ Bush said. ″Several reliable sources indicate that he is receiving millions of dollars in support from Libya.″

Bush praised the recent agreement under which the Soviet Union has promised to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan, calling it ″a great triumph for freedom.″

But Bush cautioned that Americans must keep their ″eyes open″ to make sure that the Soviets carry through with their promise.

In response to a question, Bush also said that the administration is ″purusing every lead, going down every rabbit hole″ in an effort locate the hostages held in Lebanon, including Terry Anderson, the Associated Press’s Middle East correspondent.

But so far, the leads have all led to dead ends, Bush told the newspaper executives.

″What we should do is keep trying,″ he said.

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