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
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
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
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
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.