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Ortega says Shultz trying to escalate action against Nicaragua With AM-Shultz

August 1, 1988

MANAGUA, Nicaragua (AP) _ President Daniel Ortega said Monday the United States is trying to escalate actions against his government through the visit to Central America by Secretary of State George P. Shultz.

Shultz met Monday in Guatemala City with the foreign ministers of El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Costa Rica. Nicaragua was not invited.

″We hope that common sense might predominate, because to want to sign a death sentence against Nicaragua, because the United States wants one, would be the equivalent of signing a death sentence against Central America,″ Ortega said of the meeting.

His comments, at a ninth anniversary ceremony for the Sandinista air force, were broadcast by the state-run Voice of Nicaragua radio.

″We hope that these (Central American) governments might be sufficiently reasonable and pragmatic so as not to fall in the trap that the United States is laying in Guatemala,″ Ortega said.

He said the Shultz mission is intended to supplant the Central American peace plan signed Aug. 7 1987 by the five Central American presidents and also peace-making efforts of the United Nations, the Organization of American States and the Contadora Group of Latin American nations.

Earlier, pro-government and government newspapers said Shultz was trying to pressure America’s allies in Central America into war against Nicaragua.

Barricada, the official newspaper of the ruling Sandinista National Liberation Front, predicted the Shultz mission would fail because Costa Rica and Guatemala would resist U.S. pressure.

Late last week it was announced that Guatemala and Costa Rica had declined to go along with a proposed joint communique that would have denounced Nicaragua, accusing it of failing to comply with the 1987 peace plan.

″Shultz Demands War″ said a headline in the pro-government El Nuevo Diario newspaper. ″Shultz Agenda Constitutes a Declaration of War,″ said Barricada.

El Nuevo Diaro also described as ″irrational″ President Reagan’s allegation Sunday that Nicaraguan Interior Minister Tomas Borge is ″actively engaged in the international drug trade.″

It said Reagan’s comments, which came in the president’s weekly radio broadcast, are ″part of a desperate campaign to obtain more aid for the murderers of Nicaraguans that he heads.″

The United States has been supporting Nicaraguan rebels, known as Contras, in their fight to overthrow the Sandinista government.

The U.S. Congress is considering renewing humanitarian aid and possibly military aid to the Contras. The previous aid ended in February.

Nicaragua has been ruled by the left-wing Sandinistas since July 1979 after they defeated the rightist regime of President Anastasio Somoza in a civil war.

Colombia, Mexico, Panama, Venezuela make up the Contadora group. It was established in 1983 to seek negotiated peace in Central America.

Guatemala City was the first stop in a 10-day Latin American tour that will take Shultz to nine countries. He is to return to Central America Aug. 8-9 for meetings with the presidents of Costa Rica, Honduras and El Salvador.

Update hourly