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Honduras talks on despite deadlines
Negotiators press ahead with talks to end political crisis even as deadlines expire.
Last Modified: 17 Oct 2009 02:38 GMT
The sticking point remains the issue of ousted Zelaya returning to office [AFP]

Talks to resolve Honduras's political crisis have continued past the deadline with the issue of ousted president Manuel Zelaya returning to office still hampering progress.

Roberto Micheletti, the de facto leader who removed Zelaya from office, was still resisting international pressure on Friday to reinstate him.

Zelaya, who was exiled three months ago, quietly returned to Honduras last month and remains holed up at the Brazilian embassy.

Micheletti is hoping to stay at the helm until a new president is chosen in next month's election, officials said.

US influence

But he may give in to the United States, the top trade partner of coffee-exporting Honduras, which wants Zelaya back before the November 29 vote.

The two sides sought agreement on whether the supreme court or congress would decide on the ousted leader's reinstatement, until elections are held and a new president takes office in January.
  
"We're going into the last phase," Vilma Morales, the spokeswoman for Micheletti's negotiators, told journalists on Friday.
  
But Zelaya said "the climate is extremely delicate and dangerous", although negotiators say they agree on most points of a deal based on an accord proposed by Oscar Arias, the Costa Rican president.
  
They include the creation of a unity government and  requirements that Zelaya drop his plans to rewrite the constitution, which sparked the crisis, and that November 29 polls be held on schedule.

Crackdowns

The latest round of talks came after months of protests and crackdowns by security forces.

Representatives of Zelaya and Micheletti finally sat down together last week to try to hammer out a settlement.
  
Amid a wave of international condemnation and aid freezes, the US has called for Zelaya's return to office, suspended some $30m in financial aid programmes and cancelled the US visas of senior regime officials.
  
Zelaya antagonised the country's elite by aligning himself with Hugo Chavez, Venezuela's president.
  
The political crisis has compounded economic woes in the nation of some 7.6 million people.

Source:
Agencies
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