Tue, Aug 11, 2009 - Page 7 News List

Honduras accepts OAS observer

CONCESSION After initially opposing the inclusion of the Organization of American States chief, Honduras agreed to reschedule a visit by a team of foreign delegates


Honduras’ interim government backed off its refusal of a visit by foreign delegates aimed at resolving its political crisis.

The negotiators are welcome as long as Jose Miguel Insulza, head of the Organization of American States (OAS), participates only as an “observer,” the Foreign Relations Ministry said in a statement on Sunday.

The government of interim President Roberto Micheletti has objected to what it calls a “lack of objectivity” by Insulza — a vocal advocate of restoring former Honduran president Manuel Zelaya to office after he was ousted in a June 28 coup.

The ministry said the visit — originally planned for today — would be rescheduled for a date “that will be decided in the next two days.”

The statement by the ministry came just hours after the government had postponed the visit, objecting to the inclusion of Insulza in the group.

The delegation organized by the OAS also includes the foreign ministers of Argentina, Canada, Costa Rica, Jamaica, Mexico and the Dominican Republic.

It was not the first time that diplomatic efforts to resolve the coup appear to have been delayed or drawn out by the interim government. It has dallied over a proposed compromise plan presented by Costa Rican President Oscar Arias, who served as mediator in the dispute, while rejecting the main point, Zelaya’s reinstatement in office.

The Washington-based OAS, a long-established hemispheric body promoting democracy, development and legal cooperation in the Americas, named the delegation on Friday.

The group’s mission is to try to persuade Micheletti to negotiate with international mediators, which Insulza described as a “continuation of Oscar Arias’ work.”

The interim government countered that Insulza not only insisted that he accompany the delegation but also failed to include foreign ministers who might be open to “reconsidering our position.”

Neither Insulza nor the OAS immediately commented.

From the beginning, Insulza and the OAS as a whole have harshly condemned the coup and said that any solution to the crisis must include Zelaya’s restoration to office. The organization later voted to suspend Honduras from its ranks. The interim government, however, had already said it would quit the organization rather than meet its demands.

Despite the suspension of millions of dollars of US aid and the threat of more sanctions, interim leaders have made clear they expect to hold out until the Nov. 29 elections. Coup backers hope the election will calm international demands to restore Zelaya, whose term ends on Jan. 27.

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