Gen. Manuel Antonio Noriega on Friday blamed U.S. Ambassador Arthur Davis and the State Department's Elliott Abrams for the breakdown in recent talks on the general's political future.
Noriega, who as head of the armed forces is the de facto leader of Panama, also said he held the Reagan administration responsible for his personal safety.In Washington, Abrams said Friday he is working on a new negotiation strategy to resolve the crisis in which the United States and Latin American democracies would play key roles.
In a telephone interview, Abrams said he envisions a "four-sided" negotiation aimed at bringing about the surrender of power by Noriega.
Besides the United States and the Latin American democracies, Abrams said, the other parties to the negotiation would be Noriega and Panamanian opposition elements.
The new approach began to evolve following the collapse on Wednesday of the unilateral U.S. effort to bring about Noriega's resignation and temporary departure from Panama.
"What many Latins have in mind is seeing if they can negotiate a complete package deal and seeing if they can get Noriega and the United States to go along," Abrams said.
He said Noriega would be more amenable to a negotiated solution if the Latin American democracies can work together to isolate him diplomatically.
Noriega told a women's convention, "I place responsibility for the life of Manuel Antonio Noriega with the establishment of the United States. I hold the establishment responsible for the life of this son of God."
The United States has been trying to force Noriega to leave as head of Panama's 15,000-member Defense Forces since he was indicted by U.S. grand juries in Florida in February as a major drug trafficker and money-launderer.
On Wednesday, U.S. officials announced that their talks with Panama to resolve the struggle over Noriega's leadership had fallen apart. Secretary of State George P. Shultz blamed the collapse on Noriega.
The general did not elaborate on his charges Friday that Davis and Abrams, the assistant secretary of state for inter-American affairs, were responsible for the breakdown of the talks.
But he called for "foreign forces" to leave Panama and for the United States to "leave Panama in peace. Sirs, for God's sake leave it in peace."
Besides the Panama Canal, the United States also has its Southern Command in Panama, with overall responsibility for U.S. military operations in a wide swath of Latin America. About 10,000 U.S. troops with about 20,000 military dependents are in Panama.
Panama's foreign minister, Jorge Eduardo Ritter, said Friday Panama's relations with the United States are "practically non-existent."
Ritter said relations were bad "because the United States maintains recognition of a government that doesn't exist."