International mediation in Honduras revived at U.N. talks

UNITED NATIONS, Sept. 24 (UPI) -- International mediation over the fate of ousted Honduran President Jose Manuel Zelaya, currently holed up in the Brazilian Embassy in the capital of Tegucigalpa, received a boost Thursday as U.S., South American and European delegates agreed to push for a fresh initiative to help defuse the crisis.

With the United States working behind the scenes, delegates from the Organization of American States and the European Union announced they would be sending back to the Honduran capital envoys withdrawn in frustration over the impasse.


Honduras's de facto President Roberto Micheletti, who sent Zelaya into exile June 28, also announced he was willing to talk to mediators on the interim government's plans for Zelaya.

It is not clear yet if Micheletti is backtracking on his hard-line position. He has been saying Brazil should grant Zelaya political asylum or hand him over to Honduran authorities, but has also admitted Honduras has lost millions of dollars through diplomatic isolation since the coup.

Tegucigalpa was calm Thursday after rioting and clashes that erupted after Zelaya's arrival at the embassy compound. MercoPress cited "rumors of killings, bullet-injuries and arrests following rioting" over the stand-off between Zelaya, his supporters outside the compound and government troops and police.


In Washington, State Department spokesman Ian Kelly told reporters the U.S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa reopened to resume its normal operations Thursday after the interim government ended what it earlier announced as an indefinite curfew.

"Details are still being worked out regarding a mission by OAS foreign ministers to Tegucigalpa," Kelly said.

Brazilian President Liz Ina Lula Da Silva told the General Assembly the international community needed to exercise its will to have Zelaya reinstated as Honduran president.

"Without political will, we will see more coups such as the one that toppled Manuel Zelaya in Honduras," Lula warned.

Further pressure on Honduras's interim regime built up as U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon indicated he could no longer support Micheletti's plan for a November election. The interim regime has based its resistance to Zelaya on the argument that Zelaya's ouster was constitutional and a new election in November will decide Honduras's future direction.

Zelaya returned to Honduras from exile Monday and took up residence at the Brazilian Embassy. Micheletti reacted by cutting off electricity and water supplies to the embassy compound. U.S. diplomats interceded to have the supplies restored and food allowed into the embassy.

Lula urged the international community to ensure the inviolability of Brazil's diplomatic mission, a plea backed by the Obama administration officials, who warned Micheletti against violations of the Vienna conventions protecting diplomatic missions.


Support for Zelaya also came from Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, in a rare point of agreement between the United States, other South American leaders and the populist radical leader who has been critical of the U.S. use of Colombian bases to fight the drug cartels.

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