US officials to visit to Honduras to push for deal

WASHINGTON, Oct 26 (Reuters) - Senior U.S. officials will travel to Honduras this week to press ousted President Manuel Zelaya and the country's post-coup de facto leaders to break a stalemate in a four-month-old political crisis.

In a sign that the United States was growing increasingly impatient with the repeated breakdown of talks between Zelaya and de facto leader Roberto Micheletti, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also spoke with both men by telephone on Friday evening to urge them to make compromises.

"The secretary discussed with each of them strategies to move the ... process forward. She urged them both to show flexibility and redouble their efforts to bring this crisis to an end," Virginia Staab, a State Department spokeswoman, said on Monday.

Staab said at least one senior administration official would go to Honduras later this week, though she said details of the dates and participants were not finalized.

The United States has said it was disappointed with a deadlock in talks aimed at solving the crisis sparked by an army-backed June 28 coup that sent Zelaya into exile.

Repeated efforts to reach a deal have stalled over the question of whether the leftist president should be reinstated and allowed to complete his term, which ends in January.

The latest round broke down on Friday after Zelaya pulled out of the negotiations.

The ousted president, who has been holed up in the Brazilian embassy since sneaking back into the country from exile, said he withdrew from the talks because he thought Micheletti's team was just trying to stall for time ahead of the Nov. 29 presidential election.

Zelaya says Micheletti's refusal to reinstate him will strip the legitimacy from the election and further isolate the de facto government.

Zelaya's decision appeared to be aimed at forcing the United States and Latin American governments to abandon their hopes of an agreement and instead pressure Micheletti to step down in order to ensure the legitimacy of the elections.

U.S. State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said last week that time was "running out" for an agreement.

Asked if this week's visit by U.S. officials was a "last ditch effort" to push the two sides into a deal, a U.S. official said Washington was still hopeful that a resolution could be worked out.

"Obviously the resolution is only going to be worked out through dialogue," the official said. "We've been trying to do ... whatever we can do to encourage that dialogue."

Editing by Cynthia Osterman