The United States has called on Latin American nations to recognise the new government of Honduras after restoring aid to the nation some five months after it was suspended following a coup.
Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state currently on a six-nation tour of Latin America, said she had notified Congress of the move to resume more than $31m in suspended assistance.
The decision comes as the Obama administration urged countries that cut ties with Honduras after the ouster of Manuel Zelaya, the former president, to recognise the new government.
Clinton said the democratically-elected government that came to power in January deserves normal diplomatic relations, including being readmitted to the Organisation of American States.
"We think that Honduras has taken important and necessary steps that deserve the recognition and the normalisation of relations," she told a news conference on Thursday, on the sidelines of a meeting of regional officials in Costa Rica.
Clinton also praised Porfirio Lobo, the new Honduran president elected in November, for taking steps to resolve the political crisis triggered by Zelaya's removal.
But countries such as Argentina and Brazil are balking at restoring ties with Honduras, calling instead for Zelaya to be restored to power.
|Manuel Zelaya says his proposed constitutional amendments were to help the poor [AFP]
They believe restoring diplomatic ties with Honduras now would reward the coup leaders who ran an interim government until January.
Clinton, who made the case for Honduras while visiting the two countries, said Lobo and the new administration "have taken the steps necessary to restore democracy" and reconcile the population split over the coup.
"We share the condemnation of the coup that occurred, but we think it is time to move forward and ensure that such disruptions of democracy do not and cannot happen in the future," she said.
Zelaya, a leftist populist, was forced from power by the military on June 28, the same day he planned to hold a non-binding referendum on changes to the constitution that would have allowed him to run for re-election.
The supreme court in Honduras and congress had opposed the public vote, saying Zelaya was trying to win support to allow presidents to serve more than a single term.
Zelaya, currently in exile in the Dominican Republic, has denied the claims saying that the constitutional changes he sought were aimed at improving the lives of the poor.