TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras, Sept. 23 (UPI) -- Ousted Honduran President Jose Manuel Zelaya remains firmly ensconced in Brazil's Embassy in Tegucigalpa amid a tense stalemate over de facto President Roberto Micheletti's refusal to accept his return to power and U.S. pleas for restraint and negotiation.
The Honduran capital was under military curfew Wednesday after clashes between Zelaya's supporters and troops, and there was no immediate follow-up to Micheletti's claim he was ready to talk with the man he ordered out of Honduras on June 28.
Zelaya issued a statement from the Brazilian diplomatic compound vowing "restitution or death ... we are ready for anything: for risk, for sacrifice."
In Washington, State Department spokesman Ian Kelly told reporters the United States had helped evacuate Brazilian diplomatic staff and other personnel to safety, but it was time now to pursue a negotiated resolution of the crisis.
"We've called on both sides to exercise restraint with this new situation," Kelly said. He said the Obama administration was concerned about the possible impact of the stalemate on the situation on the ground.
He cited U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's call this week to see the situation as an opportunity to open up communication between Zelaya and the de facto government, and pointed out the United States wanted restraint on both sides.
"President Zelaya is still in the embassy," Kelly said. "It looks like things have calmed down there." Water and power, cut off by Micheletti, had been restored and food was delivered to the embassy compound.
Kelly said, "We're happy that we were able to play a helpful, facilitative role in helping restore these services and lower the tension around the compound."
He said U.S. diplomacy had helped reinforce the message that Micheletti's government had to respect "the inviolability of the Brazilian Embassy."
Mediation efforts by Costa Rican President Oscar Arias were continuing, Kelly said. Other diplomatic efforts were under way at the United Nations and the Organization of American States, he added.
"We understand the de facto regime's foreign minister, Carlos Lopez Contreras, publicly invited a representative group of foreign ministers from the OAS countries to come to Tegucigalpa and help promote a dialogue. We welcome that announcement, and we look forward to supporting that initiative," Kelly said.
In addition, Kelly said, Brazil had formally requested that the U.N. Security Council convene to discuss the safety and security of Zelaya and the Brazilian diplomatic presence in Honduras. "We have the presidency of the Security Council this month, and in our capacity as the president of the Security Council, we're working on this request," Kelly said.
The OAS Tuesday issued a statement calling for the immediate signing of the San Jose accord, mediated by Arias, and the restoration of President Zelaya to office. The accord calls for Zelaya's return to presidency till November elections.
Micheletti said in a statement, "I am ready to talk with Mr. Zelaya, as long as he explicitly recognizes the presidential elections," the BBC reported.
In the statement, read by interim Foreign Minister Carlos Lopez, Micheletti said the way to resolve the crisis is "to go to elections on 29 November, choose a new president and ... hand over power on 27 January as mandated by the Constitution."
Zelaya arrived in Tegucigalpa nearly three months after being forced out of the country at gunpoint. He launched a campaign for a safe return to presidency from exile in Nicaragua and also lobbied other Latin American leaders for support.
Zelaya was overthrown after he tried to hold a referendum to change the Constitution to allow his re-election. His opponents called the move unconstitutional and have maintained the de facto government fulfills Honduran constitutional requirements.