MANAGUA, NICARAGUA, NOV. 7 -- Vice President Sergio Ramirez tonight ruled out that indirect cease-fire talks with the U.S.-backed rebels could take place in Managua, indicating that one possible site for the dialogue through an intermediary between the Sandinistas and the contras would be in the United States.

"In Managua? No way," said Ramirez, who is also an influential member of the Sandinista National Liberation Front, the ruling party. He said the intermediary -- expected to be Roman Catholic Cardinal Miguel Obando y Bravo -- probably will mediate between government officials in Managua and rebel leaders in the United States, "because that's where the {leaders of the} contras live."

Ramirez thus indicated that the government expects Obando to travel from country to country carrying messages from the two sides. Yesterday, President Daniel Ortega asked the prelate, a staunch critic of the Sandinistas, to be the intermediary.

Top leaders of the Nicaraguan Resistance, the main contra alliance, said today in San Jose, Costa Rica, that they hope to travel to Managua for the talks.

Ramirez also said the Sandinistas would not immediately demand that the contras lay down their arms. "To negotiate a simple cease-fire, we can't insist that they disarm. Why should we?" Ramirez said.

Ramirez's remarks came as Ortega's proposal for the indirect talks drew praise from many quarters in Central America -- but not in his own country.

Scant press coverage of the unexpected announcement, made to meet a deadline for implementation of a Central American peace plan, hinted at the heat that Ortega is taking within the Sandinista party for his decision.

Barricada, the official Sandinista newspaper, devoted 2 1/2 picture-packed pages yesterday to Ortega's speech in which he announced his proposal for the talks. But only one paragraph dealt with the proposed dialogue. This morning Barricada reported that Ortega had asked Obando to be the go-between in the talks, but did not mention with whom the dialogue will be.

Meanwhile, Costa Rican President Oscar Arias, who authored the Central American peace plan and won this year's Nobel Peace Prize as a result, praised Ortega's announcement, saying, "The main obstacle to peace is intransigence, and Ortega has demonstrated he has the necessary flexibility."

Favorable reaction also came from New York Mayor Edward Koch, who spoke in San Jose today after a four-day visit to Nicaragua. Koch called Ortega "a brilliant leader who will find peace in an expeditious way."

Koch said Ortega admitted that he under domestic pressure because of his proposal for the talks.

According to diplomats and government officials in the region, Ortega had the backing of most of the key members of the nine-member Sandinista National Directorate. A West European official, who met for two hours with Interior Minister Tomas Borge the day before the announcement, said Borge already was aware of Ortega's decision to open an indirect dialogue with the contras and gave it positive backing.

One Sandinista comandante who seemed taken aback by Ortega's proposal was top ideologue Bayardo Arce. Attending Ortega's speech to 30,000 Sandinista supporters, including many soldiers on leave from fighting the contras in the mountains, Arce grimaced in front of television cameras as Ortega made the announcement.

However, Ortega's main problem appears to be not with the Sandinista leadership but with the rank and file, and partly it may be a problem of his own making.

In the past two weeks, the Sandinistas have mobilized grass-roots organizations around a political line adamantly rejecting what they called a "political dialogue" with contra leaders. The Sandinista leadership tried to make the distinction between power-sharing negotiations, which it continues to reject, and the proposed indirect cease-fire negotiations.

But the distinction was apparently too fine for the vacationing soldiers, mothers of fallen Sandinista Army fighters, Sandinista feminists and other do-or-die Sandinista followers. Their silence about the contra talks began the moment Ortega announced them in his speech and has continued ever since.