UN chief Ban Ki-moon has agreed to assist Costa Rican President Oscar Arias in his bid to mediate an end the political standoff in Honduras, his spokeswoman said Monday.
Michele Montas said in a statement that the UN secretary general spoke to Arias Monday and "conveyed his support for President Arias' mediation efforts to resolve the political crisis in Honduras."
"The Secretary General has offered technical assistance for the mediation and agreed to work together with President Arias to help the parties reach an agreement," the statement noted.
It added that Ban was "confident that an open dialogue and international support will help resolve the current crisis."
With the political crisis in the impoverished central American country entering a tense third week despite the lifting of the curfew imposed after a army-backed coup that removed President Manuel Zelaya, the country's interim leader said Costa Rican-mediated talks may restart later this week.
"We have been officially informed that we will possibly meet in Costa Rica again on Saturday," said Roberto Micheletti at the swearing-in ceremony for his de facto government's new foreign minister.
The opening comes after two days of failed negotiations last week in San Jose between representatives of both parties, mediated by Arias, who won the 1987 Nobel Peace Prize for helping resolve civil wars in Central America.
Arias previously had suggested follow-up talks could begin in about a week.
Zelaya has proposed that the next negotiations be held in Honduras, even though the interim government has refused to allow him to return and did not let his airplane land in Tegucigalpa last week.
Zelaya, a wealthy rancher who moved sharply left after taking office in January 2006, rattled his country's ruling elite by trying to bypass Congress to hold a referendum on rewriting the constitution.
He has denied charges that the move was a bid to lift the one-term presidential limit so he could seek re-election this year.
Zelaya issues ultimatum
Zelaya had said on Monday that if the interim government does not agree to reinstate him at mediation talks scheduled for this weekend , he will consider the dialogue has failed.
"We are giving an ultimatum to the coup regime, that at the latest in the next meeting this week in San Jose, Costa Rica,
they should carry out the expressed (OAS and U.N.) resolutions (to reinstate him). If not, then this mediation will be
considered to have failed," Zelaya, who was deposed in a June 28 coup, told a news conference in Managua.