Sun, Jul 12, 2009 - Page 7 News List

Honduran delegates fail to agree, but will meet again


Delegates representing the ousted and interim governments of Honduras failed to forge an agreement during a second day of talks and no fixed date was set for future negotiations.

The only consensus reached between representatives of forcibly exiled Honduran President Manuel Zelaya and de facto leader Roberto Micheletti was that they would meet again, mediator and Costa Rican President Oscar Arias said following Friday’s negotiations.

“It is not viable that a conflict this deep could be solved in one ­meeting,” said Arias, adding the date for the next round of talks would be announced “in the coming days.”

Friday’s meetings took place without Zelaya and Micheletti, each of whom met separately with Arias on Thursday but refused to talk together. Each continues to insist that the other give up claims to lead the country.

Silvia Ayala, a leftist lawmaker with Zelaya’s delegations, said the sides agreed to let Arias set the date for future talks, but urged that they be held soon “because the country can’t support weeks of this intolerance.”

Former Honduran Foreign Minister Carlos Lopez, of the Micheletti delegation, said his side hasn’t ruled out the possibility of early elections as a way out of the crisis. The elections are currently scheduled for November.

Dominican Republic President Leonel Fernandez received Zelaya when arrived in the country on Friday with full military honors and promised to speak for him at the upcoming summit of the Nonaligned Movement in Egypt.

Micheletti, the congressional leader who was sworn in as ­president when the military threw Zelaya out of the country on June 28, was back in Honduras, where he brushed off harsh criticism from Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, a Zelaya supporter.

Chavez “said he was going to invade and he didn’t invade us,” Micheletti said.

“He said he was going to hold back fuel to Honduras and he didn’t. He said he was going to bring Manuel Zelaya back one day and he didn’t. Hugo Chavez is losing credibility in the world,” Micheletti said.

Chavez denounced the US-backed talks in Costa Rica and said Micheletti should have been ­arrested instead of participating.

“How horrible to see a legitimate president receiving a usurper and giving him the same treatment,” Chavez told a news conference in the Venezuelan capital, Caracas, referring to Arias’ Thursday night meeting with Micheletti.

Chavez also said that the US and US President Barack Obama should be putting more pressure on Honduras to return Zelaya to power.

“Why haven’t they recalled their ambassador to Honduras? Why haven’t they supported sanctions? Economic sanctions? Political sanctions? ... Do something. Obama, do something,” he said.

Obama’s administration, the UN and the Organization of American States have demanded that Zelaya be returned to power so he can serve out a term that ends in January.

No foreign government has recognized Micheletti.

But US officials have promoted the talks in Costa Rica’s capital, hoping to ease Zelaya back into the presidency while resolving the concerns of Honduras’ Supreme Court, Congress and military, which say they legally removed the president for violating the constitution by maneuvering to extend his time in power.

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