PANAMA CITY, FEB. 5 -- -- The Panamanian government denounced the U.S. indictments of military leader Manuel Antonio Noriega today and warned the United States that its patience and tolerance were wearing thin.

"The government of Panama energetically and indignantly rejects . . . the obsessive campaign of lies and calumnies against" Noriega and "the attempts by the North American administration . . . to isolate Panama and destabilize its government," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Federal prosecutors in Miami and Tampa, Fla., today issued indictments against Noriega on federal drug and racketeering charges, alleging that he used his vast governmental powers to convert Panama into a haven to help traffickers smuggle drugs into the United States.

{Maj. Edgardo Lopez, spokesman for the Panamanian military, quoted Noriega as saying the charges were "totally false, no more than another step in the plan to menace and terrorize nationalist leaders and Latin American patriots who dare to confront the United States," United Press International reported.

{According to Lopez, Noriega said the allegations were "a joke and absurd political maneuver" and that the whole affair was "in strict accord with political interests of the government of the United States."}

The Foreign Ministry statement said the charges were false and based on statements by convicted drug dealers who exchanged their testimony for reduced sentences.

"The government warns that it is extremely dangerous to tax the patience, tolerance and good faith of the Panamanian people with campaigns that could spark unforeseen reactions," it said.

The ministry did not specify what action the government might take.

{The streets of Panama City were quiet in the hours after news reached the country that Noriega had been indicted in Florida, UPI reported. But antiriot troops moved into a downtown park near the headquarters of key opposition groups.}

A spokesman for the U.S. Embassy here said the indictments constituted a legal process aimed at named individuals, not the Panamanian government.

"I should stress that we do not seek to sully the government of Panama or to denigrate the institution of the Panama Defense Forces," he said.