Press Release E-009/2000
January 19, 2000

OAS Special Representative Reports on Progress in Honduras-Nicaragua Talks

Special Representative Luigi Einaudi, who is working on behalf of the Organization of American States (OAS) to help reduce tensions between Honduras and Nicaragua, told the OAS Permanent Council today that the two countries have made progress in developing measures to maintain peace. But he said the parties have not yet been able to work out a final agreement on such issues as the definition of a military exclusion zone in disputed waters of the Caribbean Sea.

"There are still some points that must be resolved," Ambassador Einaudi said, in his first report to the Permanent Council since he was appointed as an envoy on this issue in December. "On the economic front, normal relations continue to be elusive," he added.

The substance of the maritime boundary issue that has led to tensions between the two countries will be decided by the International Court of Justice in The Hague. Ambassador Einaudi, a retired U.S. diplomat, is helping the two countries develop mechanisms to prevent military confrontation while the parties wait for a decision from the International Court.

Einaudi said today that until the two sides reach a final agreement, there remains the risk of military clashes in the part of the Caribbean Sea that both countries claim. "The combination of an uncertain peace with the existence of sanctions and the risk of reprisals can seriously harm the parties, the Central American region and ultimately the situation in the hemisphere, if it continues," he said.

OAS Secretary General C�sar Gaviria praised Einaudi for helping to reduce tensions and promote dialogue, and called on all the parties to continue to work toward resolving remaining issues. "There are still important risks," Gaviria said, adding that he hoped both countries would be able to return to normal relations in the next few weeks.

In comments to the Permanent Council today, both Ambassador Laura N��ez of Honduras and Ambassador Alvaro Sevilla of Nicaragua reaffirmed their countries� commitment to resolving their differences peacefully. Representatives of Canada, Mexico and the United States, which are helping to finance the envoy�s mission, were among those who stressed the importance of a peaceful solution, particularly given the Central American countries� need to focus on reconstruction from the ravages of Hurricane Mitch. Ambassador Margarita Escobar of El Salvador, while stressing her country�s neutrality, welcomed the holding of the next round of talks between Honduras and Nicaragua at the headquarters of the Central American Integration System (SICA) in San Salvador, El Salvador, as a sign of both countries� commitment to regional integration.

The Foreign Ministers of Honduras and Nicaragua, Roberto Flores Berm�dez and Eduardo Montealegre, held their first direct talks on the matter December 29-30, at a meeting with Einaudi in Miami. They agreed to several measures, including an immediate separation of military forces and the establishment of a military exclusion zone in the disputed area of the Caribbean Sea. The foreign ministers continued their talks in a meeting with Einaudi last week at OAS headquarters in Washington and will meet again February 6-7 at SICA headquarters.

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