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Ortega says ‘ready to meet Trump’

President Daniel Ortega said he is open to meeting U.S. President Donald Trump at the United Nations (UN) later this month despite expressing concerns that the United States could launch a military intervention.

With his country embroiled in a major political crisis since April, Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega has granted an exclusive interview to FRANCE 24.

The U.S. on Sept. 5 declared Nicaragua’s civil unrest a threat to the region’s security, saying government repression of protests risked creating an overwhelming displacement of people akin to Venezuela or Syria.

Ortega says he is ready to meet US President Donald Trump in the coming weeks at the UN General Assembly.

“We are under threat,” Ortega told France 24 TV in an exclusive interview being broadcast on Monday. “We can’t rule out anything out as far as the U.S. is concerned. We can’t rule out a military intervention,” he said.
“The idea of having a dialogue with a power like the U.S. is necessary,” said Ortega, in the interview. “It could be an opportunity (to meet Trump) at the United Nations General Assembly. I’d like to go.”

The annual gathering of world leaders starts on Sept. 24 at the U.N.’s headquarters in New York.

Accusing the U.S. of training armed groups to stoke trouble in his country, Ortega reiterated that early elections would be detrimental to Nicaragua, as such he has refused to meet the demands of the Civic Alliance for his stepping down and calling early elections in March 2019.

The next presidential election is due in late 2020.

Washington has blamed Ortega, and his wife and Vice President, Rosario Murillo, for the situation. The U.S. has also imposed sanctions against three top Nicaraguan officials, citing human rights abuses.

Respect for institutions’

Ortega insisted that the situation in his country is under control, despite thousands of Nicaraguans taking to the streets again on Sunday, September 9, in Managua to demand his departure and the release of “political prisoners”.

Ortega, who has held the presidency since 2007, said he is in talks with the UN and European countries, such as Germany and Spain, to restart the stalled dialogue with the opposition.

He also accused Nicaragua’s Catholic Church, which has acted as a mediator, of siding with the opposition, and accused the latter of taking orders from Washington.

More than 300 people have been killed and 2,000 injured in crackdowns by Nicaraguan police and armed groups in protests that began in mid-April over an abortive plan by leftist Ortega’s government to reduce welfare benefits.

Ortea said he would be prepared to meet Trump if it could be arranged.

 

Article originally appeared on Today Nicaragua and is republished here with permission.

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