Bush administration officials met Monday with advisers to Nicaraguan President-elect Violeta Barros de Chamorro and said afterward they plan to propose hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. aid for Nicaragua even before Chamorro is inaugurated April 25.
American and Nicaraguan officials who participated in the talks declined to divulge the amount of aid being discussed. ``It's too early for that,' said Bernard Aronson, assistant secretary of state for Latin America, after several hours of discussions at the State Department.But other officials said that they expect the total aid package will go even higher than the $300 million that Francisco Mayorga, Chamorro's chief economic adviser, has requested to meet Nicaragua's immediate needs.
In Nicaragua, Chamorro promised amnesty Monday for the U.S.-backed Contra rebels and the immediate abolition of the military draft.
``The Contras need guarantees to come home, so we may have peace,' Chamorro said.
In Honduras, the Contras expressed their willingness Monday to turn over their arms to UNO, the 14-party opposition coalition headed by Chamorro, publisher of the opposition newspaper La Prensa.
The Sandinistas, however, have begun to issue defiant warnings that the government-elect must not tamper with Sandinista control of the military or the Ministry of the Interior, which controls the secret police.