High-level mission aims to end political deadlock

Seven foreign ministers from the Americas and a top regional official were in Honduras Monday on a two-day mission to convince the interim government to accept a Costa Rican proposal that would see ousted President Manuel Zelaya reinstalled.


AFP - Seven foreign ministers from the Americas and a top regional official were in Honduras Monday in a bid to end the crisis set off by the ouster of President Manuel Zelaya almost two months ago.

The polarized Central American nation hit political deadlock after the June 28 military coup backed by the country's courts and Congress.

The head of the Organization of American States (OAS), Jose Miguel Insulza, joined the foreign ministers in meetings with politicians, business and church leaders in the capital, Tegucigalpa.

The official aim of the two-day visit was to convince the interim government of Roberto Micheletti to accept a proposal by conflict mediator and Costa Rican President Oscar Arias to reinstall Zelaya as president.

The United States, which has strong military and commercial ties with Honduras, strongly backed the latest crisis mission, saying it supplied an aircraft that took the delegation to Honduras.

"We continue to believe that the Honduran people deserve a peaceful negotiated agreement to which all parties can commit, and that this (Costa Rica) accord presents the best opportunity," State Department spokesman Ian Kelly told reporters.

Foreign governments from Venezuela to the United States have condemned the coup, but international pressure, including frozen aid and withdrawn ambassadors, has so far failed to budge the de facto leaders.

They are still seeking support for their position that a constitutional succession, not a coup, took place in Honduras, because Zelaya violated the law by seeking to change the constitution.

The Supreme Court on Saturday rejected the Costa Rica-brokered deal and sternly warned that Zelaya faced arrest if he returned.

Zelaya's wife, Xiomara Castro, met with the foreign ministers and the OAS chief on Monday.

Castro, who has been in Honduras since the coup, told AFP that she had explained "the persecution that not only the family but also the Honduran people had suffered, especially workers, farmers and teachers," in the past 58 days.

Masked intruders destroyed the transmitters of two pro-Zelaya radio stations -- Radio Globo and Canal 36 -- late Sunday, their journalists said Monday.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, meanwhile, last week condemned the deaths of four people killed in demonstrations following the June 28 coup.

Hundreds of taxi drivers blocked streets Monday to demand Zelaya's return, before being moved on by police and soldiers, while union leaders planned further protests.

The foreign ministers of Argentina, Canada, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Mexico, and Panama took part in the latest mediation bid.

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