Church suspends talks to ease Nicaragua political crisis

June 19, 2018
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Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes, center, reads a statement accompanied by leaders of the Roman Catholic Church during talks between the opposition and the government, in Managua, Nicaragua, Friday, June 15, 2018. The negotiations had been suspended since May 23 due to a lack of progress, but resumed again Friday between business, student, civil society and farmers' groups and representatives of President Daniel Ortega's government. (AP Photo/Alfredo Zuniga)

MANAGUA, Nicaragua (AP) — Nicaragua’s Roman Catholic hierarchy has suspended a dialogue with the government aimed at ending a two-month political crisis.

The Episcopal Conference of Nicaragua says the government has not met an agreed requirement to formally invite the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the European Union to observe the situation.

It says government representatives said they had not been able to ready the invitations.

More than 160 people have been killed since protests began after changes to the social security system in mid-April. They were quickly reversed, but the protests grew to a demand for President Daniel Ortega to step down.

Also Monday, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the U.S. government supports a call for early elections. She says attacks on peaceful protesters are unacceptable.