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2 TAKING STEPS TO KEEP PEACE IN CENTRAL AMERICA

SHARE 2 TAKING STEPS TO KEEP PEACE IN CENTRAL AMERICA

President Rafael Callejas opened a new military unit Monday where Nicaragua's Contra rebels once were based, saying Honduras "never again" will allow rebel forces on its terrotory.

Honduras also will not sign agreements allowing permanent U.S. military bases in the country, Callejas told the Honduran daily LaTrubina."We are not prepared to sign either a protocol agreement or to have any long-term association of a permanent nature for Palerola as an American base," Callejas told the newspaper.

Callejas scotched reports that the U.S. military bas at Palerola, 50 miles north of Tegucigalpa, would become a permanent facility, but said Honduras will continue joint military exercises with U.S. forces.

The U.S.-Honduran "Tall Pine" exercises began when the base was set up in 1982 at the beginning of the Contra war against Managua.

Callejas said future exercises would be aimed at "reforestation abd protection of forests."

"Never again will there be irregular armed forces on Honduran soil," Callejas said at a ceremony to open the new military unit where Nicaraguan rebels once were based.

Some 10,000 U.S.-funded Contra rebels had used the camps as bases for operations in Nicarague, where for eight years they tried to overthrow the Sandinista government.

Most of the 10,000 went into Nicaragua following the February 25 election victory of anti-Sandinista candidate Violetta Chamorro and have agreed to disarm by June 10.

Remaining in Honduras are 700 Contra rebels who were wounded or crippled in the Nicaraguan civil war. They handed in a batch of useless weapons to U.S. peacekeeping forces April 18.