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Ousted Zelaya 'to meet successor'
Dominican Republic president says Zelaya and Lobo will meet in Santo Domingo.
Last Modified: 12 Dec 2009 03:14 GMT

Lobo was elected on November 29 in elections that had been planned before the coup [EPA]

The president of the Dominican Republic has said that Manuel Zelaya, the deposed Honduran president, will meet his elected successor next week in this Caribbean nation.

Leonel Fernandez said on Friday that he expected Zelaya and Porfirio Lobo, Honduras's president-elect, to meet on Monday in Santo Domingo to examine ways to resolve the political crisis that has gripped Honduras since Zelaya was ousted.

"As of Sunday and Monday, we will have both figures of the Honduran political world in the Dominican Republic," Fernandez said.

He said that Zelaya would arrive on Sunday and Lobo on Monday morning.

Fernandez said that he expected to meet both men separately, and then bring them together for discussions.

No confirmation

There was no indication that a deal for allowing such a meeting had been reached with the de facto government that replaced Zelaya after a coup on June 28.

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Rene Zepeda, the information minister in the de facto government, said that it had not received a petition from Zelaya or from officials in the Dominican Republic to ask that Zelaya be granted safe passage to leave the country.

Zelaya also did not confirm that a meeting with Lobo was set.

He told the Associated Press news agency only that he was grateful to Fernandez for seeking to arrange the meeting.

"We are thankful for President Fernandez's gesture because it shows his intention to solve the Honduran crisis in an effort to benefit Central America. We are analysing his proposal and we are in communication with President Fernandez," Zelaya said.

However, Lucia Newman, Al Jazeera's Latin America correspondent, said that for Fernandez's statement indicates that negotiations are more advanced than one might first think.

"Fernandez has had a lot of success in the past in bringing conflicting sides together," Newman said.

"And Lobo has already said that he wants to bring about national reconciliation, and that he is willing to speak to all sides, including the deposed president."

Still at odds

Honduran officials and Zelaya have been at odds this week over the terms of a deal that would let him leave the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa, the Honduran capital, without fear of arrest on the charges of treason and abuse of power that led to his removal from power and exile.

He has taken refuge in the embassy since slipping back into Honduras on September 21.

The government has insisted that he must concede he is no longer president, although his term runs to January 27.

Zelaya says he won't do that and on Thursday rejected a Mexican offer for a safe exit from Honduras.

"There is a lot of pressure on the de facto government to give in and stop trying to force Zelaya to sign a paper that says he resigns as president in order to give him a safe conduct pass," Newman said.

"Many countries, especially in South America, are staunchly resisting any recognition of the new government, no matter what deal is struck.

"They say that anything less than the reinstatement of the deposed president is saying that it is ok to have a military coup, as long as you have an election soon after.

"And that is not the message they want to send."

Ultimate departure

Zelaya told Brazil's Globo television earlier on Friday that he would remain at the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa until January 27, 2010 at the latest, when his term formally ends.

"However, I would like to leave as soon as possible, obviously with the support of the Brazilian government," he said.

Brazil had also indicated that Zelaya should leave by the end of his tenure.

"He is absolutely aware that when his mandate ends, he will need to go elsewhere," Francisco Catunda, the Brazilian embassy's charge d'affaires, said.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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