Zelaya waits for U.S. breakthrough on Honduras stalemate

WASHINGTON, Sept. 4 (UPI) -- Honduran President in exile Jose Manuel Zelaya has placed all his bets on a U.S.-led breakthrough that will restore him to power, reversing a June 28 coup that toppled him and installed Roberto Micheletti as the new de factor president, but it is a waiting game for now.

Zelaya flew into Washington last month and has been holding talks at the Organization of American States and various Honduran organizations and lobby groups, but has indicated that meetings with senior State Department officials, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, is the one diplomatic push forward he needs the most.


Diplomats and officials indicated a meeting between Zelaya and Clinton was imminent but had no immediate details.

Clinton was the senior figure in the Obama administration Zelaya focused on while rallying support for his return to power during impassioned rallies in Nicaragua and lobbying in other Latin American countries.

His public appeals to Clinton called on the Obama administration to act forcefully to get him back into power in Tegucigalpa, the Honduran capital. His open letters to the Obama administration put across the notion that the United States could persuade or even force Micheletti to stand aside as Zelaya returned triumphant to power.


All this proved to be over-optimism when a mediation mission, led by Costa Rican President Oscar Arias, with OAS bigwigs in tow, swept into Tegucigalpa in late August amid buoyant rhetoric, but found every single one of its compromise initiatives spurned by Micheletti.

The de facto president, unfazed by the beginnings of U.S. punitive measures, including aid and visa suspensions, vowed to ignore the international community and hold presidential elections in November, possibly to have himself elected.

This week the State Department announced wider aid and visa suspensions but did not spell out what the Obama administration intended to do about Zelaya -- unseated for more than two months, visibly unimpressed but over here and impatient for action.

State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said Wednesday the United States had now suspended all aid to Honduras.

"We're still focused on our main goal, which is the restoration of the democratic and constitutional order; in other words, the return of President Zelaya," Kelly said. "We're still trying to do whatever we can to try and reach that end. But we will want to work very closely with our partners in the OAS and the region."

He said the Obama administration still backed the San Jose accord, brokered by Arias, to allow Zelaya to return to power and had applied various measures to make the de facto government accept the deal. "We haven't given up yet on this," he said.


Asked what the United States would do if Micheletti went ahead with the election in November, Kelly said, "That's a question that began with the word 'if.' I think it's fair to say that whatever we do, it will be done in consultation with our partners in the region."

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