President Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua proposed today that Honduras and Nicaragua set up a joint patrol arrangement to prevent further incidents such as the one that escalated tensions between the two nations last weekend.
Ortega said at a press conference that the size, composition and management of the patrol force would be subject to negotiations with Honduras and could include troops from other nations or international organizations if Honduras agrees.
Ortega repeated his charges that the weekend clash on the northern border was started by Honduras at the instigation of the United States and that 1,500 U.S.-backed Nicaraguan rebel troops, known as contras, remain massed on the border to launch further attacks.
The border patrol "would be a concrete step to guarantee that no foreign forces could go there to affect the normal relations between our two nations," Ortega said.
He said Honduran President Roberto Suazo Cordoba has not responded to Ortega's earlier call for a meeting yet, but Ortega then was handed a note, which he said notified him that Suazo Cordoba was ill.
"It is up to President Suazo Cordoba to prove that he is not the puppet of the U.S.," Ortega said.
[David Macmichael, a CIA intelligence analyst during 1981-83, testified Monday that a CIA plan to infiltrate 1,500 armed men into Nicaragua to destabilize its Sandinista government was put into effect under the guise of preventing Nicaraguan arms shipments to Salvadoran guerrillas, The Associated Press reported from The Hague. Macmichael took the stand Friday at a World Court hearing on Nicaragua's claim of U.S. aggression.]
Responding to questions, Ortega confirmed that a Nicaraguan helicopter had been hit by Honduran aircraft fire in the Friday clash, but he said it landed safely and is being repaired.
Honduras maintained that it sent its Super Mystere jets over the border only in response to Nicaraguan artillery fire that killed one person and injured eight.