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January 15, 1984 – Capping off a busy week with eyes on the brewing conflicts in Central America. The issue of whether or not the U.S. should intervene in Nicaragua was up for discussion. The potential tipping point was an incident taking place on the Honduran/Nicaraguan border. For the first time since U.S. and Honduran War games began the previous summer, a U.S. serviceman was killed. A U.S. Helicopter with three men aboard made a forced landing along the Honduran/Nicaraguan border. According to Pentagon reports, the helicopter sat down on a road that was clearly within Honduran space. The pilot got out of the craft and was killed by Nicaraguan ground fire while he was clearly in Honduran territory. Sandinista spokespeople said they did bring a U.S. Helicopter down, but said nothing about killing a crew member. Nicaraguan soldiers were quoted as saying they had continued firing after the chopper had landed and that the crew had its hands in the air. The White House called the incident reckless and unprovoked and Secretary of State George Schultz issued a protest. The Sandinista government, for its part, deplored the incident, but blamed it on U.S. Military presence in Central America. When asked if there would be a military retaliation to the incident, Schultz said no.
And our presence in the Middle East was coming under scrutiny again after the killing of a Marine, came under fire in Beirut raised the question of just how long we were going to stay there. We had already lost 262 Marines in the bombing of the barracks seventeen months earlier, when the first wave of American peacekeepers arrived. Senator John Tower had just returned from a tour of Lebanon to assess the situation and told the press that, after consulting with Lebanese officials, the withdrawal of U.S. forces from the region, without a diplomatic mandate or solution would have disastrous consequences.
And China’s Zhao Ziyang paid a visit to Washington, the first head of a Chinese government to visit the U.S. President Reagan welcomed the visit saying the U..S. and China stood on common ground in the quest for peace and in opposition to Soviet expansionism. Zhao, for his part said he felt U.S.-China relations were below the level they should be and he brought up the issue of Taiwan at a State Dinner. Even with the disagreements, Reagan and Zhao did sign several agreements regarding Science and Technology. Steps and inches.
And that’s a small slice of what happened this week, ending on January 15, 1984 as presented by ABC World News This Week.