Page last updated at 06:37 GMT, Friday, 25 September 2009 07:37 UK

Honduras holds 'informal' talks

People queue for taxis in Tegucigalpa on 24/09/09
Days of curfews that paralysed the country have been lifted

The interim government of Honduras and ousted President Manuel Zelaya have held informal talks in a bid to end the current political crisis.

Mr Zelaya said his meeting with an unnamed official was a positive first step, but little progress was made.

Interim Deputy Foreign Minister Martha Lorena Alvarado said the talks were not aimed at restoring Mr Zelaya to power.

Mr Zelaya remains holed up at the Brazilian embassy, which is surrounded by police and troops.

He has been sheltering there since making a surprise return to Honduras on Monday, after three months in exile.

A Brazilian diplomat told the BBC that those inside the embassy were being forced to survive on a diet of biscuits.

"I'm not saying that we are going to starve, but the situation is very precarious. We have no clothes, soap or towels," he said, adding that embassy staff were finding it very difficult to leave the building.

The United Nations Security Council is due to discuss the situation in Honduras on Friday, following a request from the Brazilian government.

'Intimidate us'

Mr Zelaya told TV Channel 36 that the official from the interim government took an "extremely hard" stand during their meeting, the AP reports.

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

But he told other reporters: "This is the first approach and we hope it advances. We are looking for a solution as soon as possible."

Interim leader Roberto Micheletti is reported to have said he is open to talks with Mr Zelaya.

But the interim deputy foreign minister told the BBC the talks were not aimed at restoring Mr Zelaya to power.

Ms Alvarado accused the international community of misunderstanding the fact that the interim authorities acted within the country's constitution in removing him from power.

"They have not had the time to study the situation before the transition, or the succession if I may say, and to this point we are like a small country in the hands of big donors of the world trying to intimidate us," she said.

Curfew lifted

The US, the European Union and the Organization of American States (OAS) have all urged dialogue to end the crisis.

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva used his address at the UN General Assembly in New York on Wednesday to call for Mr Zelaya to be reinstated.

Ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya, left, answers questions from the press, at the Brazilian Embassy in Tegucigalpa (24 Sept 2009)
Manuel Zelaya (left) remains at the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa

"The international community demands that Mr Zelaya immediately return to the presidency of his country and must be alert to ensure the inviolability of Brazil's diplomatic mission in the capital of Honduras," he said.

The UN has suspended any assistance for elections scheduled for 29 November.

A statement said Secretary General Ban Ki-moon did not not believe conditions were right for "credible elections".

Earlier on Thursday, Mr Micheletti lifted a curfew the government imposed following Mr Zelaya's return.

The three-day curfew is estimated to have cost Honduras, one of the poorest countries in the region, $50m (£30m) a day in lost trade and business.

Many ordinary people are growing tired of the seemingly endless stalemate and want to see some kind of settlement soon, the BBC's Andy Gallagher in Tegucigalpa says.

The political crisis erupted after Mr Zelaya tried to hold a non-binding public consultation in July, asking 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. He has denied this.

Map of city

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