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OAS delegation invited to Honduras
Body aims to promote 'dialogue' between de facto government and ousted president.
Last Modified: 23 Sep 2009 21:33 GMT

Zelaya has stayed in the Brazilian embassy since re-entering Honduras on Monday [AFP]

The military-backed interim government of Honduras is to receive a delegation from the Organisation of American States (OAS) charged with forming a dialogue with the country's deposed president.

The OAS mission was invited to the Honduran capital by the de facto government's foreign minister, the US state department said on Wednesday.

"We understand the de facto regime's foreign minister ... publicly invited a representative group of foreign ministers from OAS countries to come to Tegucigalpa and help promote a dialogue," said Ian Kelly, a state department spokesman.

"We welcome that announcement and we look forward to supporting that initiative."

Brazil backs Zelaya

The invite comes after Manuel Zelaya, Honduras' ousted president, quietly returned to his country, nearly three months after he was deposed.

He has sheltered at the Brazilian embassy since reaching Tegucigalpa on Monday.

Brazil and Venezuela have since led calls at the United Nations General Assembly in New York for Zelaya to be reinstated.

"The international community demands that Mr Zelaya immediately return to the presidency of his country and must be alert to ensure the inviolability of Brazil's diplomatic mission in the capital of Honduras," Presiden Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva of Brazil told the assembly on Wednesday. 

The de facto Honduran government said on Tuesday that it was willing to talk to Zelaya if he recognised the legality of presidential elections scheduled for November.

'Open to dialogue'

"I will talk with anybody anywhere at any time, including with former President Manuel Zelaya," Roberto Micheletti, the country's interim president, said in a statement.

The concession by the interim government came during a standoff between security forces and Zelaya supporters outside the Brazilian embassy, where Zelaya is residing.

One person was reportedly killed during a series of separate clashes between Zelaya supporters and security forces.

Roberto Micheletti, the country's interim president, said in a statement: "A police spokesperson told us that one person was killed last night, an 18-year-old.

"But the morgue has said that the person who was killed was 64 years old."

"One-hundred-and-eighteen others were detained and several were wounded in small clashes throughout the night," she said, adding that a curfew imposed on Monday had been relaxed. 

Exiled in pyjamas

Micheletti had previously said he would not reopen negotiations with Zelaya and insisted that Brazil should hand over the ousted leader to "pay for the crimes he committed" which he said included corruption and violating the constitution.

Oscar Arias, the Costa Rican president who unsuccessfully mediated in talks between Zelaya and the interim government in July, told Al Jazeera that he was working on hosting a new round of negotiations.

Micheletti has said he is willing to hold direct talks with Honduras' ousted president [AFP]
"I think it is much more civilised if we re-start the negotiations ... so I have invited both the foreign minister of the de facto government and the Zelaya people to re-initiate this dialogue in my country," he said.

Soldiers toppled Zelaya at gunpoint and sent him into exile in his pyjamas in a coup on June 28 following his attempt to call a constitutional referendum on presidential term limits.

Micheletti had repeatedly refused to allow Zelaya to return, insisting he would be arrested if he tried.

Economic sanctions have been imposed by the US government and the EU against Honduras, while Zelaya has called for negotiations with the leaders who forced him out.

His return has overshadowed campaigning for the November 29 presidential vote that the interim government hopes will restore the country's international legitimacy.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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