Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega promised Vice President Dan Quayle today he will peacefully relinquish power April 25, without conditions, said U.S. officials traveling with Quayle.
Ortega also assured the vice president that all Cabinet ministers, including the defense minister, "will be appointed by and report to Violeta Chamorro," the U.S.-backed candidate who beat Ortega in the Feb. 25 election, one official quoted Quayle as saying.
The two met over a 1 1/2-hour lunch given by newly inaugurated Chilean President Patricio Aylwin in the presidential palace after arranging in two brief earlier chats to talk further.
Ortega also asked that the Bush Administration immediately lift the economic sanctions imposed by the United States during his Sandinista regime, said the officials, who briefed reporters on condition of anonymity.
Quayle assured him the Administration is already actively considering the same request made by Chamorro, the officials said.
They said that while Ortega has said repeatedly that the Contras must be disbanded before power is transferred, he did not make that a condition to his promise today of peaceful transition.
"He assured me he will turn over power as scheduled April 25," the day of Chamorro's inauguration, officials quoted Quayle as saying.
Ortega also told Quayle that the Nicaraguan power transfer "will be even more peaceful" than what occurred this weekend in Chile, which ended a 16-year military dictatorship, vice presidential aides said.
They said Quayle brought up possible use of U.N. peacekeeping troops to help prevent outbreaks of fighting between the Contra rebels and Sandinista loyalists.
Ortega indicated that that would be fine "if they are willing to take the risk," the aides said. They quoted Quayle as replying, "We better take a risk for peace."