Page last updated at 10:26 GMT, Wednesday, 23 September 2009 11:26 UK

Honduras leader 'willing to talk'


Young supporters of the ousted president break the curfew in Tegucigalpa

The interim leader of Honduras, Roberto Micheletti, says he is willing to talk to deposed president Manuel Zelaya, who is barricaded in the Brazilian embassy.

But Mr Micheletti said Mr Zelaya must first accept that planned presidential elections would be held in November.

Mr Zelaya, who was sent into exile in June, says the offer is "manipulation".

Troops have surrounded the embassy in the capital, Tegucigalpa, where Mr Zelaya appeared after his surprise return to Honduras on Monday.

Electricity, water and telephone services were cut off for a time on Tuesday before being partially restored.

Brazil has warned Honduran security forces not to enter the embassy and is seeking an urgent meeting of the UN Security Council to address the crisis.

28 June: Zelaya forced out of country at gunpoint
5 July: A dramatic bid by Zelaya to return home by plane fails after the runway at Tegucigalpa airport is blocked
25-26 July: Zelaya briefly crosses into the country at the land border with Nicaragua on two consecutive days, in a symbolic move to demand he be allowed to return
21 Sept: Zelaya appears in the Brazilian embassy in Tegulcigalpa

Mr Micheletti has said there are no plans to use force.

He has urged Brazilian officials to either grant Mr Zelaya political asylum or hand him over to Honduran authorities.

A curfew in the capital, which was been in force since Monday afternoon, has been extended until 1800 local time on Wednesday evening (2400GMT Thursday).

Mr Micheletti said he was ready to hold talks with Mr Zelaya, but he attached conditions.

"I am ready to talk with Mr Zelaya, as long as he explicitly recognises the presidential elections," Mr Micheletti said in a statement read by interim Foreign Minister Carlos Lopez.

Speaking to BBC Mundo, Mr Micheletti said the way to resolve the crisis is "to go to elections on 29 November, choose a new president and... hand over power on 27 January as mandated by the constitution".

Mr Zelaya described the offer as "total manipulation" in interviews with local and Brazilian media.

There was no will on the other side to resolve the crisis, he said.

"If elections are held, there need to be equal conditions for all, not persecution of some and favouring of others," Mr Zelaya said.

Mr Zelaya arrived in Tegucigalpa nearly three months after being forced out of the country at gunpoint.

Manuel Zelaya 21.9.09
Brazil is among the countries calling for a negotiated settlement

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

His opponents said the move was unconstitutional and was aimed at removing the current one-term limit on serving as president, so paving the way for Mr Zelaya's possible re-election.

Mr Zelaya has denied this and said he always intended to hand over to his elected successor in January.

The US, Brazil and other governments have joined Mr Zelaya in calling for a negotiated settlement to the crisis.

Early on Tuesday soldiers used truncheons, tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse thousands of Mr Zelaya's supporters who had defied a curfew.

Some 70 people were reported to still be inside the Brazilian embassy.

Lights, water and telephones were cut off on Monday, with a generator used to provide electricity.

By Tuesday afternoon, services had been partially restored, people inside the embassy told BBC Brasil.

In a letter to members of the UN Security Council on Tuesday, Brazil said it was concerned "with the safety of President Zelaya and with the security and the physical integrity of the (Brazilian) embassy premises and personnel".

The interim administration insists no coup has taken place in Honduras - but rather a "constitutional succession" ordered by the courts and approved by Congress.

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