updated 9/23/2010 4:58:23 PM ET 2010-09-23T20:58:23

A Nicaraguan diplomat whose throat had been slashed was found dead Thursday by his driver, who was picking him up for the United Nations General Assembly's annual meeting.

Cesar Mercado, 34, was found at 10:35 a.m. in his apartment in the Bronx. The driver found the door ajar and Mercado's body lying just inside the blood-spattered apartment, police said.

"The knife was found on the floor next to him," said Paul Browne, the NYPD's deputy commissioner for public information.

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Police were investigating a possible motive, and no suspects were immediately identified.

Mercado came to the U.S. in 2001 to work as an assistant in the office of Nicaragua's ambassador to the United Nations, a friend said. He was single and his family was in Nicaragua.

He eventually became consul general, working with passports and immigration visas. The assistant to the ambassador said the mission couldn't immediately release any information.

Mercado's friend Amparo Amador said he was like a son to her. Recently, she'd urged him to go to the doctor because he looked thin, and he had been diagnosed with diabetes.

The two went to the wedding of another friend in Brooklyn just six days ago, where he danced and had fun.

"He had no enemies. He was loved by everyone who knew him," she said in Spanish. "When I first heard of his death, I thought he must've died from natural causes because there would be no way he could be killed."

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She said he lived the life of a young, single guy, but he wasn't wild.

"He was the perfect guy. The best person, just wonderful," she said.

"I feel as if one of my children has died."

Leaders from 192 nations were in town for the General Assembly, including Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, who is a fierce critic of the United States and a defender of North Korea and Iran. President Barack Obama addressed the General Assembly on Thursday.

Nicaraguan Vice President Jaime Morales said U.S. Ambassador Robert Callahan assured him that the FBI would do everything possible to investigate.

Mexican Consul Ruben Beltran, a leader of the Association of Latin American Consuls, said the organization will ask authorities for a prompt investigation.

Beltran said he remembered Mercado's solidarity.

"There is concern among the community of Latin American consuls," he said. "He was an active colleague; he always came to the important events. He was a generous, friendly, straightforward person, a good colleague."

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