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Clock Ticks as U.S. Mulls Solution to Honduran Stalemate

With less than three months until presidential elections in Honduras, the White House is running out of time to resolve a coup that resulted in the ouster of the nation's now deposed president, Manuel Zelaya. The dispute has also strained U.S.-Honduran ties.

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  • MARGARET WARNER:

    It's been more than two months since the Honduran president, Manuel Zelaya, was whisked from his bed by soldiers in late June and flown into exile. The Honduran congress and supreme court helped generate the coup. They said Zelaya had been trying to unconstitutionally extend his presidential term.

    They installed congressional leader Roberto Micheletti as interim president of a new de facto government until elections in November. Zelaya immediately began pressing to return. And his ouster was denounced by the United Nations, the Organization of American States, and, perhaps most critically, President Obama.

  • U.S. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:

    President Zelaya was democratically elected. He had not yet completed his term. We believe that the coup was not legal.

  • MARGARET WARNER:

    Today, Secretary of State Clinton met with Zelaya in Washington. At the same time, the State Department said it was terminating all non-humanitarian aid to Honduras until a return to democratic constitutional governance.

    The aid, which had already been temporarily suspended, amounts to roughly $30 million.

    Assistant Secretary of State P.J. Crowley made the announcement.

    P.J. CROWLEY, assistant secretary of state for public affairs: Today's action sends a clear message to the de facto regime that the status quo is unacceptable and that their strategy to try to run out the clock on President Zelaya's term of office, you know, is unacceptable.

  • MARGARET WARNER:

    But the move fell short of what Zelaya wanted. That was for the U.S. to call his ouster a military coup. That would trigger far more sweeping cuts in aid. Crowley was asked why the secretary didn't go further.

  • P.J. CROWLEY:

    We're trying to do two things. You know, one is to send a clear message and put as much pressure as we can on the de facto regime. But we still value our relationship with Honduras and in particular the Honduran people.

  • MARGARET WARNER:

    Today's move comes after months of stalled mediation efforts by Costa Rican President Oscar Arias. So far, Micheletti's government has refused any deal that allows Zelaya back into office for the remaining three months of his term.

    In Honduras, Zelaya's loyalists continue taking to the streets, demanding his return. Yesterday, in Washington, Zelaya called on the United States to take more action to force that.

    MANUEL ZELAYA, president, Honduras (through translator): I think that the first country in the world cannot put its prestige on the line and submit to a small group of people that are pro-coup and do not accept the opinion of the international community. This is like a snatching of democracy during the Obama administration.

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