Statement by Assistant to the President for Press Relations Fitzwater on Discussions Between the Speaker of the House of Representatives and President Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua

 

November 16, 1987

 

The President met today with House Speaker Jim Wright for 40 minutes to discuss the Speaker's involvement and discussions with Sandinista President Daniel Ortega last week. The President expressed his concern over the Speaker's role in getting involved in what should be essentially a matter between the Sandinista government and the Nicaraguan resistance with respect to negotiating a cease-fire. The President pointed out to the Speaker the confusion that arises and the misleading impressions that can be left if Members of Congress, without coordination with the executive branch, involve themselves in complex negotiations with foreign heads of government.

 

Speaker Wright reported to the President on his discussions with President Ortega, Cardinal Obando, and members of the Nicaraguan resistance. He asserted to the President that his efforts were an attempt to further the peace process and to offer Cardinal Obando whatever assistance might be useful in his efforts to serve as a mediator between the Sandinistas and the Nicaraguan resistance.

 

The President strongly stressed to the Speaker the need for additional nonlethal assistance for the freedom fighters to ensure that they remain a cohesive, viable force which can continue pressuring the Sandinistas into meeting their commitments under the Central American peace plan. The President expressed the hope that Congress will work closely with the administration in the effort to secure peace in Central America and democracy in Nicaragua.