World News

U.S. to restart aid to Honduras as crisis ends

TEGUCIGALPA (Reuters) - The United States said on Friday it will restart aid to impoverished Honduras after toppled President Manuel Zelaya flew into exile and the country swore in a new leader, ending a long political crisis.

The United States cut off more than $30 million in non-humanitarian aid to Honduras following the June 28 coup that ousted Zelaya, part of a $450 million international aid freeze. The European Union, Venezuela, the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank also suspended aid.

The move, however, failed to unseat de facto leader Roberto Micheletti while hurting Hondurans, especially the poor. Honduras received about $1 billion a year in foreign loans, humanitarian aid and subsidized Venezuelan fuel before the coup.

That represented some 20 percent of its national budget.

Other donors have yet to say if they will restart their aid programs. Brazil, Canada, Mexico are among the nations that do not recognize Honduran President Porfirio Lobo because the November elections were organized by the de facto government.

The United States has recognized Lobo.

“Honduras’ isolation is not right. In Washington, we’re already looking at how to restart our economic assistance,” U.S. Ambassador Hugo Llorens told a joint a news conference with Lobo.

Lobo said that next week, at the urging of the United States, a truth commission would start to investigate the coup that forced out Zelaya, who flew into exile to the Dominican Republic shortly after Lobo took office on Wednesday.

Brazil, which gave Zelaya refuge in its embassy in Tegucigalpa during the crisis, said on Friday it has not ruled out relations with the new Honduran government but noted that it first wants a common position with others in the region.

At least four Latin American countries -- Colombia, Panama, Guatemala and Costa Rica -- have recognized the Lobo government.

Reporting by Gustavo Palencia and Miguel Angel Gutierrez; Editing by Paul Simao