No Easy End in Sight for Honduras Coup Crisis

By: AP
By: AP

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica (AP) -- 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 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 that the date for the next round of talks would be announced "in the coming days."

A Costa Rican government spokesman who was not authorized to give his name said Saturday the delegates had returned home. Arias, who has been losing his voice, saw a doctor and planned to spend a quiet weekend analyzing the situation.

Arias was diagnosed with a nonmalignant cyst on his vocal cords last year and advised not to speak for a month, but the spokesman said the president had no plans to postpone talks.

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.

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.

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.

Many governments have pulled their ambassadors from Honduras, while Zelaya supporters have protested daily in the capital since he was ousted.

About 1,000 people gathered near the airport Saturday to honor a teenager who was shot dead during a protest there last weekend as Zelaya attempted to return to Honduras. Zelaya's plane was blocked from landing by military vehicles parked on the runway.

After Friday's talks, Zelaya flew to the Dominican Republic, where President Leonel Fernandez received him with full military honors and promised to speak for him at the upcoming summit of the Nonaligned Movement in Egypt. On Saturday, he left for Washington, but did not release details of his plans.

Micheletti, the congressional leader who was sworn in as president when the military threw Zelaya out of the country on June 28, did not immediately make any public statements after returning to Honduras.

President Barack Obama's administration, the United Nations 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.

U.S. 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. They accuse him of trying to extend his time in office, though he denies that.

State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said Friday the pace of negotiations will be set by Arias, but U.S. officials would continue consultations and would work within the OAS.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, a Zelaya ally, denounced the Costa Rica talks and said Micheletti should have been arrested instead of being allowed to participate.

"How horrible to see a legitimate president receiving a usurper and giving him the same treatment," Chavez told reporters Friday, referring to Arias' meeting with Micheletti.

Arias, who won the 1987 Nobel Peace Prize for his role in ending Central America's civil wars, asked that outside critics of the talks "let Central Americans solve the problems of Central America like we did 20 years ago."


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