December 3, 1999
Nicaragua angry at Honduran plans to ratify sea treaty

                  MANAGUA, Nicaragua (AP) -- Honduras plans to ratify a treaty with
                  Colombia on disputed waters Tuesday, infuriating neighbor Nicaragua,
                  which fears the treaty will undermine its own claims to a broad swath of the
                  Caribbean Sea.

                  Nicaraguan officials say the treaty would affect 31,000 square kilometers
                  (12,000 square miles) it claims in the Caribbean, including areas it says are
                  potentially rich in fish, oil, gas and minerals.

                  The treaty has so outraged Nicaragua, which also has a territorial dispute
                  with Colombia, that President Arnoldo Aleman on Monday had to publicly
                  rule out war as a means to resolve the matter, though he vowed to defend
                  his country's rights.

                  "I don't believe that declaring war and sacrificing a people against a powerful
                  country such as Colombia is the solution," Aleman said during a session of
                  Nicaragua's congress, the National Assembly. He said Nicaragua was
                  asking the Central American Court of Justice, a regional institution, to
                  intervene and halt the Honduran vote.

                  Nicaragua appears especially irritated that Honduras, a fellow member of
                  the Central American Parliament and other joint institutions, would seem to
                  side with Colombia's claims.

                  On Sunday, Aleman said in a broadcast speech that, "we will not permit the
                  least trampling of our sovereign rights" and warned that Honduran ratification
                  of the treaty would cause "irreparable and unexpected damage" to relations.
                  Nicaragua's congress voted Monday to urge Honduras to reject the treaty.

                  Also Sunday, the Honduran government welcomed a Nicaraguan proposal
                  to submit the territorial dispute to the World Court in The Hague,
                  Netherlands. But, Honduras said it was still scheduled to go ahead with the
                  treaty ratification vote Tuesday.

                  U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan called Friday for a peaceful resolution
                  and said the United Nations is ready to provide any assistance.

                  "The secretary-general is following the issue closely and has called on all
                  parties concerned to continue their efforts to seek a peaceful resolution of
                  this controversy," said Annan's spokesman Fred Eckhard.

                    Copyright 1999 The Associated Press.