Gen. Manuel Antonio Noriega met with his American lawyers in Panama City, Panama, to discuss fighting U.S. drug trafficking indictments against him. One said the general was encouraged at how the case is going. Two Florida attorneys met on Tuesday with the general, who has survived U.S. economic and other pressures aimed at forcing him to resign as head of the nation's 15,000-strong Defense Forces and leave Panama.

The lawyers are Raymond Takiff and Frank Rubino, who were contracted by Noriega after he was indicted in Florida in February.After the meeting, Rubino described Noriega, the power behind the civilian government, as "very encouraged" by developments in the case and "very confident" about having weathered U.S. pressure to oust him.

According to Noriega, the Reagan administration wants him out because of his opposition to what he calls efforts in the United States to retain control of the Panama Canal. Under the 1977 canal treaties, the United States must relinquish control of the canal by midnight Dec. 31, 1999.