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Clinton Says Arias Will Mediate Honduras Standoff
By Janine Zacharia
July 7 (Bloomberg) — U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced today that Costa Rican President Oscar Arias will mediate the standoff between the new regime in Honduras and deposed Honduran president Manuel Zelaya.
Clinton, after meeting with Zelaya at the State Department in Washington, said the ousted leader agreed to participate in the negotiations, to be held imminently in Costa Rica, rather than try to return to Honduras again.
“President Zelaya agreed with this,” Clinton said. “I believe that it is a better route for him to follow at this time than to attempt to return in the face of the implacable opposition of the de facto regime. And so, instead of another confrontation that might result in loss of life, let’s try the dialogue process and see where that leads.”
Clinton said she spoke with Arias, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, and that he said he would be willing to begin negotiations “immediately.” She said the U.S. also received word that interim Honduran President Roberto Micheletti agreed to the negotiations.
“I don’t want to prejudge what the parties themselves will agree to,” Clinton told reporters. “We hope at the end of this mediation there will be a return of democratic constitutional order that is agreed to by all concerned.”
Zelaya, speaking separately to reporters outside the State Department, said he plans to leave tomorrow for Costa Rica. “I already spoke with President Arias,” he said. “I go to be present in what will really be the restoration of democratic government” in Honduras.
Kevin Casas Zamora, a former vice president under Arias, said, “Zelaya respects Arias a great deal and Arias has been very strong in condemning the coup.”
The Costa Rican president is not “eager” to step into the middle of the current conflict but will do what is necessary, Casas Zamora, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington, said in a phone interview today.