President Reagan met with his top advisers Saturday to discuss policy on Panama, but an administration official said the 21/2-hour session produced no deal to get Gen. Manuel Antonio Noriega out of power.
"There is no definitive deal or agreement or understanding" with Noriega, said the official, who spoke on condition he not be identified. In response to a question, he said also that "it is safe to assume" there is no tentative deal, either, "at this stage."Roman Popadiuk, deputy White House press secretary for foreign affairs, said there were "no immediate plans" for Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Michael G. Kozak, who returned from Panama on Friday after talks with Noriega, to return to Panama.
"He will remain in Washington for consultation," Popadiuk said. Kozak attended the meeting with the president and reported on his negotiations, the spokesman said. He added that no further meeting between Kozak and the president had been set.
Popadiuk said the president and his advisers met in the residential quarters of the White House. The president left the meeting for a few minutes toward its end to deliver his weekly radio address.
Popadiuk said the president convened the meeting "to review the Panama situation and hear Deputy Assistant Secretary Kozak's report on his discussions in Panama."
Howard Baker, in an interview with Cable News Network, said, "I believe in the final analysis that Gen. Noriega will leave - will leave power and leave the country - but that is not a done deal."
Baker said the indictment of Noriega was "a useful part of the technique to try to get Noriega so that he can no longer use the government of Panama, the armed forces of Panama, to advance the cause of his own drug trafficking and trading."