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OAS Divides on Resolution to Condemn US Attack in Panama With AM-US-Panama, Bjt

December 22, 1989

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Organization of American States suspended its Thursday session five minutes after it opened, as representatives divided on the wording of a resolution to condemn the U.S. military intervention in Panama.

OAS Chairman Angus Albert Khan of Trinidad and Tobago said he had been approached by several delegations asking for more time before beginning debate on a resolution submitted Wednesday by Nicaragua. He did not say when the session would resume.

Nicaragua’s leftist government on Wednesday introduced a resolution calling on the members to condemn the use of force and demand the immediate withdrawal of American troops. As written, the measure could be interpreted to include the more than 10,000 U.S. soldiers permanently based in Panama.

The members held firm to OAS procedures Wednesday and put off debate on that resolution for 24 hours. They also used established procedures to rebuff a request by the U.S.-recognized government of Guillermo Endara in Panama to accept a new representative.

Instead, Panama is representated by Jose Maria Cabrera, who decried ″the brutal and criminal aggression″ against his homeland and de facto ruler Gen. Manuel Antonio Noriega.

Traditional U.S. allies, in speech after speech Wednesday, spoke out against the use of force in the region. But the agreement stopped there.

OAS sources, speaking Thursday on the condition of anonymity, said at least two other resolutions were being prepared by the Latin countries. The sources said the new drafts would include a condemnation of Noriega, who is wanted in the United States on drug trafficking charges but eluded capture when troops stormed into Panama City.

The Caribbean members said they did not have enough time to consult their governments on an appropriate response.

″It’s even more fragmented that that,″ U.S. ambassador Luigi Einaudi said after the session. He declined to comment further, saying only that the United States ″obviously won’t accept condemnation.″

The OAS has not been asked to decide which government it recognizes in Panama. The United States announced Wednesday that Endara was sworn into office hours after the first troops arrived. He was elected in May in balloting later nullified by Noriega.

During the Wednesday evening session, member nations long considered U.S. allies read statements condemning the assault on Panama. The criticism came from Chile, Brazil, Ecuador, Guatemala, Haiti and Costa Rica.

″We see abusive practices have not been forgotten and we do not accept it. We protest it,″ said Peruvian ambassador Edmundo Haya de la Torre. ″This does not mean we support General Manuel Antonio Noriega.″

Defense for the U.S. assault came from El Salvador, which said the U.S. action supported the freely elected government. Backing also came from Canada, which holds observer status until it becomes a member next year.

Canadian representative Richard Gorham said his government ″regretted the use of force″ but added: ″We must nonetheless again highlight the extraordinary circumstances which have caused the United States to act as it has, and to support its objective of restoring constitutional, democratic government to the republic of Panama.″

Cabrera accused the United States of ″slaughtering defenseless civilians″ and said Panamanians would not back Endara.

″He will stay thanks to the bayonets, the gunships and the tanks of the U.S. Army,″ he said. ″No worthy Panamanian, no Panamanian who is aware of his homeland can accept Guillermo Endara as president.″

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