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Ortega says he is willing to meet Trump at UN summit

NICARAGUAN President Daniel Ortega said on Monday night that he is prepared to meet US counterpart Donald Trump for talks at the United Nations summit in New York later this month.

In an interview with France 24 Mr Ortega announced plans to attend the UN general assembly for the first time in a number of years and said that meeting Mr Trump “could be an opportunity.”

But the Sandinista leader said he was aware of a “soft coup” attempt to overthrow the Nicaraguan government with its “roots in Florida” and said he feels “under threat” from the Washington administration.

“We can’t rule anything out as far as the US is concerned. We can’t rule out military intervention,” Mr Ortega said.

But he warned the US “not to mess with Nicaragua,” saying that, if Washington really wanted to contribute to peace and stability in the region, it should “respect the decisions made by Nicaraguans” and stop conspiring against governments in the region.

He rejected claims that his government had suppressed opposition in Nicaragua, branding a report from the UN high commissioner for human rights “slanderous,” “politically charged” and directed by the US.

Mr Ortega’s government has retaken control of Nicaragua after armed right-wing militias hijacked protests against social security reforms, attempting to oust the Sandinistas and launching violent attacks against party supporters.

Road blocks established across the country, damaging Nicaragua’s economy, were cleared in a government operation last month. A huge arsenal of weapons, including home-made rocket launchers and explosives, was uncovered at the Autonomous University of Nicaragua, the centre of the anti-government protests.

The Nicaraguan president dismissed calls to bring forward elections due in 2021, saying: “We need to defend institutions and respect those institutions.”

Government-initiated peace talks aimed at resolving the political crisis collapsed with Mr Ortega saying “an attempt was made. It simply did not work.” However, he reiterated his commitment to dialogue and a peaceful resolution.

He said the UN general assembly meeting on September 25 represented an opportunity for talks.

“I think that the idea of having exchange and dialogue with a global power like the United States — and here I’m not just talking on behalf of Nicaragua, I’m talking for Latin America as well — is necessary. In fact it is an imperative,” he said.

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