Honduras crisis talks under way

Costa Rican president mediates talks between interim leader and ousted president.

    Micheletti has insisted that the interim government formed after the coup is constitutional [EPA]

    "These are two men that simply do not like each other and they would prefer to do the negotiations in a bilateral manner [with Arias]."

    Complex negotiations

    Arias, a Nobel peace laureate, is serving as the main interlocutor between the two Honduran rivals after attempts by the Organisation of American States (OAS) and the United Nations to solve the crisis failed.

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    But he faces a "huge task" to reconcile the respective positions of Zelaya and Honduras' interim government, Elizondo said.

    "We briefly spoke to Micheletti as he got off his private jet and we asked if he had a plan B. He said 'I'm not here to budge; I'm not here to negotiate, but I'm here to bring some sort of resolution to this'," Elizondo reported. 

    "But what was left unsaid is that both sides are not budging from their respective position."

    Zelaya told Al Jazeera on Wednesday that he was confident that the country's military-backed interim government would be dismantled as a result of the talks.

    He said that he was seeking the resignation of the coup leaders who had forced him into exile, arguing that international opinion was on his side.

    "What is going to be done is to fulfil the resolution of the Organisation of American States and the resolution of the United Nations, in which they ask first and foremost for the reinstatement of the president of the republic," he said.

    "Number two is the complete non-recognition of the authorities by coup d'etat, and condemnation of the coup d'etat."

    Tough line

    But while Zelaya has demanded that he be swiftly reinstated as president, the interim government has maintained a tough line against him.

    Zelaya has the weight of international support behind him in the run-up to the talks [EPA]
    "This isn't a situation that can be resolved in a blink of an eye," Carlos Lopez, designated by Micheletti's interim government as envoy to the UN, said in Tegucigalpa, the Honduran capital.

    Lopez reiterated the interim government's assertion that the Zelaya would face charges if he returned to Honduras.

    Speaking to Al Jazeera on Wednesday, Antonio Rivera Callejas, a senator in the Honduran congress and a minority leader of the opposition National Party of Honduras, maintained that "what happened in Honduras was not a military coup - it was constitutional".
     
    "The supreme court, the 15 judges, by a unanimous decision, [ruled] that Zelaya was violating the laws in our constitution. Then the congress acted.
     
    "The president was taken out of our country for his own safety. If he had stayed here, blood would have been on the streets."

    Callejas added that "if Zelaya wants to come back, he is welcome, but he will be judged by all citizens".

    US suspends aid

    After nearly two weeks of mostly muted response from the US, Washington said on Wednesday that it had suspended $16.5m in military assistance programmes asnd development assistance programmes to the Honduran interim government.

    About $50m more in assistance "could be in jeopardy" this year alone, it said.

    But the US government said that "programmes that directly benefit the Honduran people are continuing", including "supporting the provision of food aid, HIV/Aids and other disease prevention, child survival, and disaster assistance, as well as election assistance to facilitate free and fair elections".

    Zelaya was removed from power on June 28 as he was about to press ahead with a non-binding referendum on the constitution.

    His domestic critics said the public vote was aimed at changing the constitution to enable him to run again for office at the end of his current four-year term.

    Zelaya attempted to return to Tegucigalpa, the Honduran capital, on Sunday but soldiers and military vehicles blocked the runway and warned off his aircraft.

    At least one person among the thousands of people waiting for the plane to land was killed by security forces - the first to die in clashes since the coup.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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