President Reagan today ordered the expulsion from the United States of Nicaraguan Ambassador Carlos Tunnermann and seven other representatives of the Sandinista government in response to Managua's ouster of the U.S. envoy and seven of his aides.
"We are going to return the favor," Reagan told reporters as he posed for photographs with visiting Kuwaiti Prime Minister Saad al Abdullah al Sabah. "We are going to do to him (Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega) what he did to us."
Reagan told reporters:
"I have told the State Department to send their ambassador and seven comrades back to Managua."
Relations Not Broken
Reagan said the action did not amount to a break in diplomatic relations, but added that "there is a possibility always" that this would follow.
White House spokesman Marlin Fitzwater said that the expulsion orders should be delivered by the State Department today and that the Nicaraguans would be given 72 hours to leave.
It was unclear, however, whether Tunnermann could be forced to leave, as he is also his nation's ambassador to the Organization of American States, which is headquartered in Washington. The United States, as the organization's host country, cannot expel envoys with OAS accreditation.
Fitzwater said the seven aides had not been selected.
House Speaker Jim Wright said Nicaragua had committed "a gravely serious and lamentable act of bad judgment" and called on the Sandinista government to immediately reconsider its action.
The Nicaraguans said in Monday's expulsion order that U.S. Embassy officials were at Sunday's opposition demonstration in Nandaime, about 40 miles from Managua.
Nicaragua said today that Washington's tit-for-tat expulsion of eight of its diplomats was not justified because the Nicaraguan diplomats, unlike the Americans, were not engaged in illicit activities.
"Unlike the American personnel in Nicaragua, those expelled from the Nicaraguan Embassy were not engaged in illicit activities. There can be no political and legal reciprocity," chief Foreign Ministry spokesman Alejandro Bendana said.