WASHINGTON — President Violeta Barrios de Chamorro of Nicaragua said Monday she is cautiously optimistic that a group of friendly nations will help her war-torn country with a series of loans and grants.
She made the remarks after a meeting with Secretary of State James A. Baker III on the first day of a three-day Washington visit aimed at seeking financial support for Nicaragua and cementing ties with the United States.
Chamorro will address a joint session of Congress today and meet Wednesday with President Bush.
Financial concerns top Chamorro's three-day visit as her country is trying to deal with a large foreign debt burden and the impact of her economic recovery plan.
Chamorro has received promises of substantial economic help from the World Bank and other financial institutions if she is able to pay back, with help from donor countries, the $360-million arrearage on Nicaragua's $9.5-billion foreign debt.
She also faces doubts among some critics about her policy of reconciliation with the country's former rulers, the Sandinistas.
Officially, the Bush Administration is refusing to challenge the wisdom of Chamorro's policy of reconciliation, noting that polls indicate she enjoys overwhelming support at home.