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Sandinista, Church Leaders Hold Talks

February 10, 1987

MANAGUA, Nicaragua (AP) _ The Roman Catholic Church’s radio station will be allowed to reopen and two expelled priests could be allowed to return to Nicaragua, a top Sandinista official said Tuesday.

Rene Nunez Tellez, the minister of the presidency, said the government ″has no objection″ to the reopening of Catholic Radio, which was closed for failing to transmit a speech by President Daniel Ortega in January 1986.

He also said the government would not object to the return of Bishop Pablo Vega and Monsignor Bismarck Carballo, the radio’s director and the spokesman for the Curia, ″so long as they obey the law.″

Vega, bishop of central Chontales province, also was the secretary of the Nicaraguan Bishops Conference.

The leftist Sandinista government has accused church leaders of siding with the U.S.-supported Contra rebels. Carballo was prohibited from returning to Nicaragua from a trip abroad last June, and Vega was expelled in July.

Nunez Tellez spoke with reporters a day after a closed-door meeting between church and government leaders.

Nunez Tellez said the meeting was to seek an overall solution to the tense relations existing between the church and the Sandinista government and ″establish the rules of the game about what we can and cannot do.″

Monsignor Bosco Vivas, vicarof the Managua Curia, and Bishop Carlos Sancti of northern Leon province represented the church at the meeting. Nunez Tellez and Justice Minister Rodrigo Reyes represented the overnment.

The meeting was held at the residence of Monsignor Paolo Giglio, the Papal Nuncio, with Giglio acting as a mediator.

Nunez Tellez refused to disclose details of the talks. A similar meeting Sept. 27 between Cardinal Miguel Obando y Bravo, the head of the church in Nicaragua, and Ortega proved inconclusive.

However, Nunez Tellez called Monday’s meeting ″very positive″ and said both sides agreed to hold another session March 2. ″We will try to seek common points of convergence to start drawing up a global agreement which we want signed as soon as possible,″ he said.

Vivas’ reaction was noncommittal. ″What is most important is the will of both parts to seek an agreement,″ he told reporters.

Earlier this month, Catholic and Protestant leaders called on Christians around the world to join in prayer for church people they said suffer ″repression and persecution at the hands of the Sandinista government.″

Carballo was among the signers of the statement, which was released in Washington.

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