Chief of state Daniel Ortega said today that talks with the United States begun in June had deteriorated sharply and that the outlook for the negotiations between the two countries was "unfavorable."
Ortega's pessimism contrasted with an upbeat assessment he gave about the talks in an interview in early August. He declined today to provide details about the reason for the change, noting that the two sides were supposed to keep their negotiating positions secret.
"Nicaragua has made very concrete proposals at Manzanillo," Ortega said, referring to the Mexican resort where most of the talks have been held. "The United States also has made proposals. We consider that the balance of these proposals is unfavorable for a serious effort," Ortega said during a meeting with a dozen journalists this morning.
"We thought that the United States was being serious in Manzanillo," he said, but now the conversations have become "insubstantial." He said that the "most serious" problem was that the United States, in the seventh round of talks held this week, was "practically ignoring the proposals that have been made."
U.S. officials here declined to comment on the talks, but a source familiar with the U.S. position suggested that Washington was waiting at Manzanillo to see how regional Central American negotiations called the Contadora talks would progress in coming weeks. The United States is waiting to see how Nicaragua responds to changes in a Contadora draft treaty that are to be proposed by U.S. allies Honduras, El Salvador and Costa Rica.
The principal U.S. concerns in the talks are over Nicaragua's support for Salvadoran leftist guerrillas, its arms buildup, its ties to Cuba and the Soviet Bloc and the degree of democratic pluralism here. Nicaragua's principal goal is to persuade the United States to drop support for antigovernment guerrillas based in Honduras and Costa Rica.