U.S.secretary of State deputy pays visit to Nicaragua

Deputy U.S. Secretary of State Robert Zoellick paid a visit to President Enrique Bolanos on Tuesday while denouncing the president's foes. Zoellick was to meet with Bolanos and with an independent citizens group that is calling for constitutional reforms to overcome the country's political crisis, the AP reports.

On Monday, Zoellick met with Guatemalan President Oscar Berger, after which he told reporters that the Central American Free Trade Agreement should strengthen the relationship between Washington and the region.

During a joint news conference with Zoellick on Monday, Berger called Nicaragua a "democracy under siege," and he urged the Organization of American States "to do its very best in order to avoid a coup d'etat from taking place" _ referring to warnings by Bolanos.

U.S. officials have expressed concern that the divisions in the Liberal Party could lead to a return to power by the once-Soviet-backed Sandinistas, who battled U.S.-backed rebels throughout the 1980s before losing power in 1990 elections. AM

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