Organization of American States foreign ministers late last week approved a declaration setting a Sept. 1 deadline for a democratic transfer of power in Panama. The ministers also extended until Aug. 23 the mandate of an OAS mediating team, which is charged with helping to end Panama's two-month-old political crisis. The declaration also called on Panama to hold free elections as soon as possible after Sept. 1.

Panamanian Foreign Minister Jorge Ritter pledged his government's full cooperation with the mediating team.

US Deputy Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger said the transfer of power envisioned in the declaration ``must reflect the will of the Panamanian people.''

The new democratic elections called for must not be held in ``one, two, or three years but as soon as possible,'' he said, adding, ``General [Manuel Antonio] Noriega must go.'' US delegates contended that the language does not bring enough pressure to bear on Noriega.

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