Nicaraguan VP: No border zone troop withdrawal

Nicaragua's vice president said Wednesday he is not planning to comply with a diplomatic deadline to withdraw troops from a border zone with Costa Rica, as tensions flared over a two-century-old territorial dispute.

Vice President Jaime Morales Carazo said he rejected the complaints by Costa Rica that Nicaragua was invading its territory — because the land belongs to Nicaragua.

"We cannot invade our own territory," he said.

The Organization of American States had made recommendations to resolve the land dispute after Secretary-General Jose Miguel Insulza visited the two Central American countries over the weekend and flew over the disputed area.

Costa Rica asked the OAS to tell Nicaragua to stop dredging in the San Juan River and to remove about 50 Nicaraguan soldiers from its territory. The Costa Rican government said it would not attend a previously scheduled Nov. 27 meeting on the dispute unless Nicaragua removed the troops.

Nicaragua, which denies violating Costa Rican territory, argued that bilateral talks should continue.

"We are willing to talk to Costa Rica as brothers," Carazo said Wednesday.

Costa Rica claims the dredging has caused environmental damage and has sent in about 70 police officers stationed in Barra de Colorado, a town near the disputed area. Costa Rica doesn't have an army.

The dispute drew in Google last week when the Nicaraguan official in charge of the dredging project said in an interview with the Costa Rican newspaper La Nacion that he used Google's map system to decide where the work should be done.

Daniel Helft, director of public policies for Google Latin America, acknowledged last week that the company has found "an inaccuracy in the shaping of the border between Costa Rica and Nicaragua and is working to update the information as quickly as possible."

However, Helft also criticized Nicaragua for relying on Google's map service to make sensitive decisions.

Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla has insisted on calling the incident an "invasion."

"This is not a border problem, it is the invasion of one nation to another," Chinchilla told reporters Wednesday.

Carazo said he rejected any "ultimatums," referring to the Thursday deadline over whether to accept the recommendations of the OAS.


Associated Press Writer Marianela Jimenez contributed to this report from San Juan, Costa Rica.