Thu, Jul 09, 2009 - Page 1 News List

Costa Rican Nobel laureate to mediate in Honduras talks

AFP , TEGUCIGALPA

Honduras’ ousted president and interim leader have agreed to meet this week for dialogue mediated by Costa Rica.

Deposed president Manuel Zelaya and interim leader Roberto Micheletti both backed the choice of Costa Rican President Oscar Arias, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, to lead negotiations.

Arias said two-day of talks would start in San Jose today.

“It seems to me that there is willingness on both sides to seek a negotiated settlement through diplomacy, through dialogue,” Arias said.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton backed the Costa Rican mediation bid after meeting with Zelaya in Washington.

Zelaya’s meeting with the US administration came amid increasing pressure on the Honduran leaders who deposed him on June 28.

“There needs to be a specific mediator and, to that end, we are supporting the efforts of President Arias of Costa Rica to serve in this important role,” Clinton said.

Clinton also said Zelaya had agreed to negotiations without preconditions on his future role.

When asked if she backed his return, Clinton said she hoped for “a restoration of democratic, constitutional order” and a “peaceful resolution to this unfortunate situation.”

Earlier on Tuesday, Honduras’ interim leaders hinted for the first time at a possible exit to the crisis.

Zelaya could return if Congress grants him amnesty, Danilo Izaguirre, a Supreme Court spokesman said.

But both leaders also maintained their hardline positions, despite agreeing to meet.

“We’re not going to negotiate, we’re going to talk,” Micheletti told a news conference.

Zelaya said the meeting was not to negotiate, but to plan “the exit of the coup leaders.”

But Zelaya said he would agree to advance elections due in November if he returned to power.

Zelaya’s wife led demonstrations in his favor on Tuesday, out in public for the first time since taking refuge in the US embassy after her husband was ousted.

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