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New push aims to break Honduras deadlock

Zelaya has said the Costa Rica talks have failed, while the interim leaders and the military -- which sent Zelaya into exile on June 28 -- have rejected his return as president.
by Staff Writers
Guanacaste, Costa Rica (AFP) July 29, 2009
Diplomatic efforts to solve the month-long Honduras crisis intensified Wednesday after the United States revoked the visas of four of the country's interim officials.

The crisis overshadowed a one-day summit of the leaders of Central America, Mexico and Colombia in Costa Rica, as the Honduran Congress prepared a response to a peace plan proposed by Costa Rican President Oscar Arias.

Arias warned at the summit's opening that the interim leaders would remain "absolutely ostracized" if they refused to accept Zelaya's return to power, as proposed in the plan.

The San Jose accord was still alive, Arias insisted.

Zelaya has said the Costa Rica talks have failed, while the interim leaders and the military -- which sent Zelaya into exile on June 28 -- have rejected his return as president.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday also rejected bringing forward elections currently due in November, which was another requirement of the accord.

Zelaya's ouster has drawn widespread condemnation and aid freezes, and Honduran business leaders on Wednesday lamented the impact of the crisis, with the head of the Chamber of Commerce estimating losses of around two billion lempiras (105 million dollars).

"Honduran people need bread and water. That means external commerce, stable internal production, foreign investment and international aid. None of these things will exist if constitutional order is not restored," Arias said.

The United States on Tuesday revoked diplomatic visas for four Honduras interim government officials as it sought to press them into a deal with Zelaya.

Interim Honduran officials said the list included the Supreme Court judge who signed the order to capture Zelaya and the head of Congress.

Zelaya welcomed the move from neighboring Nicaragua where he and his supporters -- some barefoot and with no change of clothes -- have massed.

Latin American leftist leaders have criticized the US administration for failing to take a firmer stand against the de facto regime, while some US Republican lawmakers have denied that a coup occurred.

The Organization of American States (OAS), which suspended Honduras over Zelaya's ouster, scheduled a meeting on the crisis in Washington on Friday, a statement said Wednesday.

It was unclear whether Zelaya would make a third attempt to cross into Honduras soon.

The interim government has extended until Wednesday a curfew along the tense border with Nicaragua, while Zelaya supporters blocked a road near the border with Guatemala, according to local television.

Honduran soldiers have been ordered to arrest Zelaya if he enters the country.

The former rancher, who veered to the left after taking office, was ousted amid fears he sought to extend his rule through a referendum on the Constitution.

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