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Honduran ousted president's return seems faraway as interim gov't remains unyielding
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17:35, August 20, 2009

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The days when Honduran ousted president Manuel Zelaya is restored to power seem remote as the interim government remains reluctant to compromise under international pressure.

Zelaya has won wide support from many Latin American countries since the June 28 coup that threw him out of office and forced him into exile.

Venezuela, Costa Rica and Chile even expelled Honduran diplomats as requested by Zelaya.

Yet, the de facto government led by congress leader Roberto Micheletti did not flinch, but adopted a tough stance.

On July 21, Honduras ordered the Venezuelan diplomatic mission to leave Tegucigalpa and its own diplomats representatives to withdraw from Caracas within 72 hours.

Then the post-coup government on Wednesday demanded that Argentine diplomats leave the country by Friday, apparently in retaliation for Argentina's earlier decision to expel Honduran ambassador for her support for the June 28 coup.

Tegucigalpa on Tuesday issued an ultimatum for Argentine diplomats in Honduras to leave the country, but Argentina rejected it, saying "the democratic government of Honduras (of Zelaya) has not said anything."

Moreover, Honduran interim government has also resisted pressure from international bodies.

After it quit the Organization of American States (OAS) on July 3, Honduras is considering withdrawing from the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA), local press reported on Tuesday.

Micheletti even said that he did not care whether the elections in November were recognized by ALBA or not.

"Commercial relations are more important than diplomatic ones and Honduras' commercial trade with ALBA countries is not much, so whether they recognize the elections or not is not an issue very important to us," Micheletti said.

Meanwhile, Zelaya has been on a shuttle diplomacy through Latin America to enlist international support for him and bring pressure on the interim government.

Zelaya said last Thursday in Chile that the solution of Honduras' political crisis depends to a large extent on U.S. position.

He hoped that Washington could put more pressure on the interim government, though the Obama Administration has condemned the coup.

The Obama administration has cut off millions of dollars in aid to Honduras in a bid to press for Zelaya's reinstatement.

Now, it seems the post-coup mediation has moved to Washington.

A delegation of the de facto Honduran government officials arrived in Washington on Monday to continue dialogue with the OAS aimed at finding a solution to the crisis.

The delegation also met with some U.S. State Department officials.

State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said the U.S. officials met with them and tried to work "toward restoration of democratic and constitutional power in Honduras."

But he said the meeting "in no way is meant to imply any kind of acceptance of the de facto regime in Tegucigalpa."

Meanwhile, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also told reporters that the United States supports the peaceful restoration of democracy in Honduras and the return of Zelaya.

"We continue to believe in the need for a negotiated solution," Clinton said.


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