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Soviet Officials Applaud Nicaraguan Ties, End Visit

March 06, 1987|RICHARD BOUDREAUX | Times Staff Writer

MANAGUA, Nicaragua — Four Soviet officials left here Thursday after an official visit that underlined what President Daniel Ortega called his leftist government's exemplary relations with Moscow.

The visitors, members of the Supreme Soviet, the nation's nominal parliament, spent three days looking at state development projects. They also traveled to a rural war zone and joined Ortega in denouncing the United States for its backing of rebels fighting the Sandinista government.

No agreements were announced, but the group's leader, Boris N. Yeltsin, said "friendship and cooperation" between the two countries "will be deepened."

Main Economic Donor

The official newspaper, Barricada, called it the highest-ranking delegation ever to visit Nicaragua from the Soviet Union, which in recent years has become the Sandinista government's main donor of economic aid.

"We give this visit great value because it ratifies our good relations," Ortega told reporters after seeing off the Soviet visitors at Managua's airport. "These respectful and friendly relations are the kind we want to have with all countries of the world, including the United States."

Last December, the Nicaraguan minister of foreign cooperation, Henry Ruiz Hernandez, visited Moscow and returned with what he called economic and technical agreements "of great importance."

No figures were made public, but Western diplomats believe that the Soviets agreed to maintain their 1986 aid level of about $300 million this year.

Soviet Help Emphasized

Even while Western nations such as the Netherlands and Sweden give tens of millions of dollars to this country each year, the Sandinistas seem more eager to emphasize the help coming from Soviet Bloc nations in Nicaragua's time of need.

To underline the point, Ortega took the Soviet visitors Tuesday to a coffee farming cooperative 66 miles north of here, a mountainous region affected by the guerrilla war.

Addressing 3,000 farmers, he recalled that after the Reagan Administration ended trade with Nicaragua in 1985, Moscow quickly responded with wheat and other food shipments and later became this country's principal supplier of petroleum.

"Have the Soviets come to destroy hospitals?" Ortega asked. "To destroy health centers? Cooperatives? Have they come to assassinate children, to kill peasants?"

Acts Tied to Contras

"No!" the audience responded to each of the questions, which referred to acts attributed to the U.S.-backed contras during their five-year insurgency.

"The Soviet brothers and sisters have invaded Nicaragua with tractors, trucks for transporting goods and harvests, with wheat and oil," Ortega said.

"This is the way we would like the United States to invade us," he added. "They should behave like the Soviets if they want our favor."

Standing before the farmers, Yeltsin recited in Russian a verse from Ruben Dario, Nicaragua's best-known poet. Then, through an interpreter, he said, "The Soviets are certain that you will throw out the contras."

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