Senior U.S. official to visit Honduras to back fair elections

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WASHINGTON, Nov 20 (Reuters) - A senior U.S. official will visit Honduras next week to underline that United States wants the Central American country to hold a "free and fair" presidential election on Nov. 28, the U.S. State Department said on Saturday.

The last presidential election in 2017 was marred by a bitter row over the vote count, which appeared to be going against incumbent Juan Orlando Hernandez until it broke down and then turned in favor of Hernandez when it re-started.

In a statement, the State Department said Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Brian Nichols will visit Tegucigalpa from Nov. 21 to Nov. 23.

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While there, he will meet with Honduran government leaders, national electoral council leadership, and representatives of Honduran civil society and the business community, it added.

"Through these engagements, Assistant Secretary Nichols will relay U.S. support for Honduras' democratic institutions and encourage the peaceful, transparent conduct of free and fair national elections on November 28," the State Department said.

Hernandez is not running in the Nov. 28 election.

The statement also said USAID deputy assistant administrator for Latin America and the Caribbean, Mileydi Guilarte, will join Nichols on the trip.

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Reporting by Daniel Becerril; Editing by Christopher Cushing

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