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Page last updated at 08:30 GMT, Saturday, 3 October 2009 09:30 UK

Honduras thaw paves way for talks

Manuel Zelaya before giving a press conference in the courtyard of Brazil's embassy in Tegucigalpa, 2 October 2009
Zelaya is holed up inside the Brazilian embassy with dozens of supporters

A thaw in the Honduras political crisis has paved the way for talks between representatives of the ousted president and the man behind his downfall.

Aides to Manuel Zelaya and interim President Roberto Micheletti will reportedly meet next week.

The talks would precede a visit by the Organisation of American States aimed at brokering a deal, the OAS says.

An emergency decree limiting civil liberties would be lifted within days, Mr Micheletti was quoted as saying.

Hours after he met a visiting US Congressional delegation, he said a dialogue was "beginning" between his supporters and those of Mr Zelaya.

The ousted president was forced from office on 28 June by a military-backed coup and has been holed up in Tegucigalpa's Brazilian Embassy since sneaking back into Honduras last month.

It is hoped the political crisis will be resolved before presidential elections, due to be held at the end of November.

Talking concessions

The thaw came after an OAS preparatory mission was allowed into the country on Friday.

The OAS has been pushing for a negotiated resolution that restores Mr Zelaya to power, and its secretary general, Jose Miguel Insulza, is due in the country on Wednesday to meet both sides.

The pressure for a negotiated settlement to the crisis is coming not only from the international community, but also from the Honduran Congress and local business leaders, says the BBC's Bruno Garcez in Tegucigalpa.

AT THE SCENE
Bruno Garcez, BBC Brasil, Tegucigalpa

The Honduran military have set up a blockade in front of the Brazilian embassy that subjects Mr Zelaya's family to strict inspections.

Food only goes in once it has been checked by sniffer dogs and hand-searched by soldiers.

A few days ago, birthday cakes destined for the Honduran first lady were only allowed in after having been cut into several slices and given 'approval' by the soldiers' German shepherds.

Last Wednesday, the soldiers prevented a blender from entering the compound, assuming perhaps that it would be used for making something more than the average milkshake.

While for days it seemed that neither of the two sides was willing to blink first, our correspondent adds, now both sides are openly talking about making concessions.

Although no agreement has yet been reached, Mr Micheletti said recent discussions with the OAS head showed "peace is coming back" to Honduras.

This was in stark contrast to the tone just a week ago, when Mr Micheletti refused to admit an OAS delegation into Honduras, and suspended civil liberties in the country after Mr Zelaya made a call for protests.

The interim government then gave Brazil 10 days to either grant Mr Zelaya asylum or hand him over.

Mr Zelaya was forced from office at gunpoint after announcing plans to hold a non-binding public consultation on whether people 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, saying that in order to regain his post, he is willing to have fewer powers and face prosecution over the accusations levelled against him.



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