OSLO, JAN. 31 -- Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega said today that negotiations for peace in Central America would continue even if the U.S. Congress approved extra funds this week for contra rebels fighting his government.
Ortega told a news conference during a brief visit to this Norwegian capital that if Congress granted an extra $36 million in funding for the Nicaraguan rebels, he would meet other presidents in the region to reassess the situation.
"But we must continue the peace process, even if Congress approved," he said. Asked if this meant that he would again negotiate directly with the contras, Ortega said: "We must wait and see." Due to return to Managua on Monday, he has been touring Europe to try to win backing for a peace plan signed by himself and four other Central American presidents.
Ortega said he had asked Norwegian Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland for help in monitoring the peace accord, as he did in Spain and Italy this week.
Brundtland said Norway would comply, provided the other Central American countries involved agreed. He said Ortega had also asked for help with acute gasoline shortages, a result of the Soviet Union cutting oil shipments to Managua.
"This help may be in the form of sending oil as part of the value of goods donated in aid," she said. Norway, a staunch supporter of Nicaragua and a major North Sea oil producer, has said it will boost bilateral aid to Nicaragua by 20 percent this year to more than $11 million.