August 8, 2009 / 12:49 AM / 8 years ago

Obama says no quick way to end Honduras crisis

WASHINGTON, Aug 7 (Reuters) - President Barack Obama said on Friday that he has no quick way to resolve the political crisis in Honduras, where supporters of a coup are refusing to let ousted President Manuel Zelaya return to power.

Obama told reporters he still supports the reinstatement of Zelaya, who was overthrown in June, but that the United States would not take unilateral action.

"I can’t press a button and suddenly reinstate Mr Zelaya," Obama said.

Obama has canceled $16.5 million in military aid to Honduras and has condemned Zelaya’s removal, as have Latin American governments and the European Union.

But the de facto government headed by Roberto Micheletti, the former head of Congress, appears to be digging in and the country’s elite say they will keep Honduras running even if the administration is not recognized by foreign governments.

"We would like to see him be able to return peacefully to continue his term, but we are only one country among many and we are going to deal with this in an international context," Obama said.

Zelaya, an ally of leftist Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, said on Tuesday the United States needs "only tighten its fist" to evict the de facto government.

"It is important to note the irony that the people that were complaining about the U.S. interfering in Latin America are now complaining that we are not interfering enough," Obama said.

Implying that support for Zelaya may be weakening, a U.S. State Department letter sent this week to a key Republican U.S. senator said U.S. policy on the Honduras’ crisis is not aimed at supporting any particular individual.

Before the coup, Zelaya was pushing for constitutional reforms that included letting presidents seek re-election. His opponents accused him of trying to stay in power, but he denies the allegation.

Mediation efforts by Costa Rican President Oscar Arias have so far failed to achieve Zelaya’s return, as has pressure from Venezuela’s Chavez, a key leader in Latin America.

The United States, Honduras’ longtime ally and top trading partner, has withdrawn diplomatic visas from key members of the de facto government in a bid to force Zelaya’s reinstatement. (Reporting by Anthony Boadle, editing by Philip Barbara)




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