* Police teargas pro-Zelaya protesters
* Zelaya congratulates Obama on Nobel prize
TEGUCIGALPA, Oct 9 (Reuters) - Ousted President Manuel Zelaya said on Friday he would not yet abandon dialogue to end a three-month political standoff in Honduras, while police fired teargas to disperse a protest outside the hotel where his aides were negotiating with the de facto government.
A June military coup that removed leftist Zelaya triggered Central America’s worst crisis in years. It has become a test for U.S. President Barack Obama who has promised a new era of engagement with Latin America.
Zelaya slipped back into the country two weeks ago and is now holed up in the Brazilian embassy. Talks between envoys from his camp and that of de facto leader Roberto Micheletti started on Wednesday with foreign delegates present.
Zelaya told Reuters he did not trust Micheletti’s motives but would not call off negotiations until at least Oct. 15.
“I am not optimistic about the conduct, about the political will of the de facto leaders, who keep power by force,” he said by telephone from the Brazilian embassy, where he is trapped by soldiers who will arrest him if he leaves.
“You always have to promote dialogue and never end it, I think October 15 is sufficient to clarify the positions of both sides.”
Micheletti angrily dismisses the possibility of a return for Zelaya, who he says was legally removed for breaking the constitution. Micheletti accuses his rival of corruption and criticizes his close ties to Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez.
About 100 Zelaya supporters protested outside the hotel where the third day of talks were being held. Police fired teargas and used a water cannon to disperse them.
“They were shouting slogans outside the negotiations, we had to move them on,” said Tegucigalpa police commissioner Leandro Osorio.
Zelaya, who has in the past requested that Washington take tougher action to restore him to power, warmly congratulated President Barack Obama for being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday.
“Today’s most important event is the Nobel Peace Prize,” Zelaya said. “I consider it a challenge to President Obama, who will be more committed every day to looking for peace.” (Additional reporting by Luis Rojas Mena; editing by Mohammad Zargham)
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.