Honduran president-elect willing to meet Zelaya

AP News
Posted: Dec 14, 2009 5:04 PM

Honduras' president-elect said Monday he is willing to meet with ousted leader Manuel Zelaya anywhere to help end the political impasse over last June's coup.

Porfirio Lobo said he is ready to talk with Zelaya outside the country or at the Brazilian Embassy, where the deposed president took refuge after sneaking back into Honduras on Sept. 21.

"I'm totally and absolutely willing to start a dialogue with Zelaya at the Brazilian Embassy or anywhere else," Lobo told Radio HRN.

The president of the Dominican Republic announced last week that he expected Lobo to meet with Zelaya in that Caribbean nation on Monday, but he said Sunday that the session was being delayed because Hondurans authorities had not given permission for Zelaya to attend

Lobo said Honduras' interim government, which took power after Zelaya was ousted, had not received any request for Zelaya to be given safe passage out of the country without being arrested. Zelaya faces charges of treason and abuse of authority for repeatedly ignoring court orders to drop plans for a referendum on rewriting the constitution.

Dominican President Leonel Fernandez's effort to have Zelaya travel to the Dominican Republic was the second attempt to get him out of Honduras.

Last week, the Mexican government sent a plane to fetch him but the interim government refused to grant him safe passage to Mexico until the ousted leader conceded he was no longer president. Zelaya rejected that condition.

The interim government of Roberto Micheletti took over after Zelaya was removed by the army June 28 and it is due to hand over power to Lobo on Jan. 27, when Zelaya's term ends.

The Micheletti administration has taken a hard line on dealings with Zelaya, while Lobo has expressed hopes of solving the standoff that has isolated Honduras from many of the Western Hemisphere's governments.

In his talk with Radio HRN, Lobo urged Zelaya and Micheletti to find a way to end the political divide.

"There has to be a complete detachment from the situation from both Zelaya and Micheletti because both are involved in this conflict," Lobo said.

The fight has split the region.

The United States and several Latin American nations have recognized the results of the election won by Lobo while still calling for Zelaya's reinstatement to finish out his term. Brazil and others have rejected the ballot, which was scheduled before Zelaya's ouster, saying to do so would legitimatize Central America's first coup in two decades.

But on Monday, Brazil and the United States joined in urging Micheletti to step now.

"We agree that President Micheletti needs to leave. That's an important step to allow Zelaya to get safe passage," said Marco Aurelio Garcia, chief international adviser to Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

Garcia spoke with reporters after meeting in Brazil with Arturo Valenzuela, the assistant U.S. secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs.