PALMEROLA, Honduras -- Vice President George Bush told Honduran officials Saturday that the Reagan administration will 'fight with everything we have' against Nicaragua's Sandinista regime, but stopped short of calling for its overthrow.
U.S. officials said Washington requested the four-hour stopover to underscore Reagan's commitment to the Honduran effort to thwart the spread of leftist revolution in Central America.
Bush met with Honduran President Roberto Suazo Cordova for an hour at his country home in La Paz shortly after arriving from Brasilia at Palmerola Air Base, the headquarters for U.S. forces in the country.
'What I told President Suazo is that we are going to fight with everything we have against the Marxist-Leninist government in Managua,' Bush told a news conference at the base, 45 miles northwest of Tegucigalpa.
Bush said he told Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega the same thing when they 'exchanged words' while attending ceremonies in Brazil Friday inaugurating a new civilian government.
But the vice president refused to say whether the Reagan administration intended to overthrow the Sandinistas, using the Nicaraguan rebels, called 'contras,' many of whom are based in Honduras
Honduran officials said they have told the United States that unless the U.S. Congress approves $14 million in renewed funding for the anti-Sandinista rebels, the country will not continue to provide them safe haven.
'Freedom-loving people everywhere appreciate the hardships and trials Honduras has had to endure as the nation on the front-lines of freedom,' Bush said.
'Any communist power with designs against Honduras should know that the United States stands foursquare behind its democratic partner. We will not allow the security of Honduras to be compromised.'
The Honduran government said in an official statement that Bush and Suazo Cordova 'carefully analyzed the development' of ongoing negotiations to give Honduras increased U.S. aid for fiscal year 1986.
Despite official U.S. and Honduran assurances that relations between the two allies remain strong, tensions have recently surfaced over the continued presence of U.S. military personnel and U.S.-backed rebels fighting the Sandinista government.
U.S. and Honduran officials in Tegucigalpa said Friday that Honduras has decided to dismantle an American regional training center near Trujillo on the Caribbean coast.
In addition, according to the Hondurans, the U.S. government has been alerted that Honduras is no longer willing to shelter rebels opposed to the Nicarauan government, unless Congress approves $14 million in funding, the first direct funding since a congressional cutoff of such financing in June.
Honduran officials said they asked Washington in August to revise a 1954 bilateral military agreement because they felt they were not justly compensated for helping to display U.S. military might in the region.
The Reagan administration's proposed 1986 budget increases military and economic aid to Honduras from $201 million this fiscal year to $237 million next year. However, Honduran officials say they need at least as much as El Salvador, some $483 million.