Page last updated at 01:57 GMT, Saturday, 11 July 2009 02:57 UK

Honduras talks end without accord


The talks made no progress over two days

Two days of talks in Costa Rica aimed at ending the political crisis in Honduras have ended without agreement.

Mediators from the host country said the two sides had agreed to resume talks shortly but some regional leaders said they saw little sign of progress.

Ousted President Manuel Zelaya and interim leader Roberto Micheletti had refused to meet but held separate talks with Costa Rican President Oscar Arias.

Correspondents say the former allies' positions remain far apart.

Mr Zelaya, who was removed from Honduras at gun point in a coup last month, continues to describe Mr Micheletti as a criminal, while Mr Micheletti's interim government has said Mr Zelaya will be arrested if he tries to return to the country.

Both men left the talks on Thursday, leaving delegations behind to continue the discussions.

Milton Jimenez, from the delegation of deposed Honduras President Manuel Zelaya, and Costa Rica President Oscar Arias in San Jose, Costa Rica (10 July 2009)
Rival delegations are to continue talks with Mr Arias (right)

Mr Zelaya flew to the Dominican Republic, where he is hoping to gather more support, and Mr Micheletti has returned to Honduras.

On arriving back in the Honduran capital, Tegucigalpa, Mr Micheletti said: "We are in agreement with his [Mr Zelaya's] return here - but to be sent directly to the courts."

Shortly after his return, Mr Micheletti announced he had accepted the resignation of his de facto Foreign Minister, Enrique Ortez, for using racially offensive language about US President Barack Obama.

Mr Ortez was reported to have described Mr Obama as "negrito" - meaning "little black man" - which Mr Micheletti said was "a scandalous epithet".

'Timid measures'

On Friday, Hugo Chavez, the President of Venezuela and one of Mr Zelaya's key supporters, said the talks in Costa Rica were dead and that it was "horrible" to see the "usurper" Mr Micheletti being treated with deference by Mr Arias.

A pro-Zelaya rally in Tegulcigalpa, 3 July
28 June: Troops expel Zelaya; Micheletti becomes interim leader
29 June: US President Obama condemns the overthrow as illegal
4 July: Organization of American States suspends Honduras
5 July: Zelaya's jet is turned back from Honduras, amid clashes
9 July: Micheletti leaves mediated talks in Costa Rica

Mr Chavez also criticised what he said were "timid measures" by the US in response to the crisis and demanded to know why they had not recalled their ambassador imposed sanctions.

The BBC's Charles Scanlon in the region says much will now depend on what Washington decides to do next.

The US has already cut some aid to Honduras but has not exerted its full economic and diplomatic muscle, says our correspondent.

The political crisis erupted after Mr Zelaya attempted to hold a non-binding public consultation to ask people whether they supported moves to change the constitution.

Opponents said that could have led to the removal of the current one-term limit on serving as president and so paved the way for Mr Zelaya's possible re-election.

He was forced out of Honduras at gunpoint on 28 June.

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