Nicaragua views as a "positive gesture" the U.S. support of last week's United Nations resolution calling for a resumption of direct talks between Managua and Washington, Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega said here today.
Ortega said that he now is waiting for a more substantive sign that the Reagan administration is willing to return to talks it canceled last January.
The Sandinista leader declared that Nicaragua will "continue to look for a way to dialogue," but he held out little hope for improved relations with the United States. In an hour-long interview, he gave no indication of a change in Nicaraguan policy that would accede to U.S. demands for trimmed ties with the Soviet Union or open talks with U.S.-backed rebels.
Instead, said Ortega, Nicaragua hoped to "survive" the U.S. economic embargo announced May 1 with "pluralistic assistance" from the "socialist countries, Western Europe, Latin America and the Arab countries."
Ortega defended his just-completed two-week trip to Moscow and the Soviet Bloc as politically important and necessary for Nicaragua's survival in the face of U.S. military and economic pressure.
Those who believe Nicaragua is "turning pink," he said, are wrong "because it's red -- red from the blood being spilled on the ground" in the war against the rebels seeking to overthrow his government.
Although he declined to supply specific details from his recent trip, Ortega characterized Soviet Bloc aid to Nicaragua as "important cooperation."
Asked about direct Soviet military assistance should the United States intervene militarily -- a commitment the Soviets are believed to have avoided making -- Ortega said only that Moscow was "worried" about the situation. He said his talks with new Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev centered on "how to avoid intervention."
The Sandinista leader declared that Nicaragua will honor its unilateral moratorium, declared by military officials in Managua last Wednesday, on importing "new weapons systems." He said that included "antiaircraft artillery and interceptor aircraft."
Even on an economic level, however, Ortega said, "the socialist countries will not solve Nicaragua's problems."
The United States vetoed elements of a U.N. Security Council resolution on Friday calling for the U.S. trade embargo to be lifted. However, the administration supported the amended version, which passed unanimously, calling for resumed U.S.-Nicaraguan dialogue.
Ortega said that the Sandinistas remained committed to their "original program of democratic pluralism, a mixed economy and nonalignment" but that "the initial program has been tempered by aggression" from the United States.
Ortega said the embargo would affect the agricultural sector of the country most, 80 percent of which he said was in private hands and dependent on U.S. suppliers for feed and fertilizer.
Although he acknowledged that many private agricultural producers actively have opposed Sandinista policies, Ortega said that they now were opposed to the sanctions. This, he said, has given his government "a chance to better our relations with them," and Vice President Sergio Ramirez had been instructed to open new talks with the private sector.
Ortega also acknowledged that the timing of his visit to Moscow may have caused an unfavorable reaction in the U.S. Congress among those who just days before had backed a ban against resumed U.S. funding of the anti-Sandinista rebels.
"It's logical under the circumstances," he said. "But we never promised not to go to Moscow."
Ortega said that the dates for his Soviet Bloc tour had been arranged long before the congressional vote on aid to the rebels. "At the time," he said, "we didn't think that Reagan was going to ask for the funds until after his return" from his European trip, which concluded Friday. Ortega maintained that the administration and Congress were well aware of Ortega's plans and said news of the upcoming Moscow visit was part of the White House's presentation to Congress in support of funds for the rebels.