Honduras complains about "threatening" El Salvador, Nicaragua boats

TEGUCIGALPA Thu Mar 14, 2013 11:23pm EDT

Hondura's President Porfirio Lobo waves during his arrival to the Central American Integration System (SICA) summit in Managua December 13,2012.REUTERS/Oswaldo Rivas

Hondura's President Porfirio Lobo waves during his arrival to the Central American Integration System (SICA) summit in Managua December 13,2012.

Credit: Reuters/Oswaldo Rivas

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TEGUCIGALPA (Reuters) - Honduran President Porfirio Lobo on Thursday said he had complained to El Salvador and Nicaragua about the presence of "threatening" boats in a shared gulf that gives the nations access to the Pacific Ocean.

In a statement posted on the president's official website, Lobo said armed boats from Nicaragua and El Salvador in the Gulf of Fonseca had shown a "threatening posture" toward the Honduran Navy, but he did not offer more details.

Lobo also said he had received complaints this week from fishermen at the port of Amapala who alleged Nicaraguan and Salvadorian launches were interfering with their work.

Lobo called for a meeting with his Nicaraguan counterpart Daniel Ortega and Salvadoran President Mauricio Funes.

The gulf, which the Central American nations all have access to, has been the scene of naval incidents between the three in the past. The International Court of Justice in 1992 ruled the three countries were to share control.

El Salvador's Foreign Minister Hugo Martinez responded to Lobo by saying his country's armed forces were under strict orders to avoid any provocation in the Gulf of Fonseca.

"We see no reason to start disputes," Martinez told reporters in San Salvador. "Great opportunities exist for us to develop the gulf jointly," he added.

Ortega's office could not immediately be reached for comment. However, local media quoted Julio Aviles, the head of Nicaragua's armed forces, as saying the country's boats had been conducting their normal patrols in the area.

(Reporting by Gustavo Palencia in Tegucigalpa, Nelson Renteria in San Salvador, and Ivan Castro in Managua Writing by Elinor Comlay; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

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