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US Secretary of State Clinton to Meet with Ousted Honduran President


Ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya is scheduled to meet with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Washington as he continues to seek international support for his return to power.

The U.S. State Department says the two will meet shortly after midday Tuesday in Clinton's office. No press coverage will be permitted.

The meeting will be the highest level contact between Mr. Zelaya and the Obama administration since he was forcibly expelled from Honduras after the June 28 military coup. He met last week with Assistant Secretary of State Tom Shannon.

During a speech in Moscow earlier Tuesday, U.S. President Barack Obama openly backed Mr. Zelaya, despite what Mr. Obama said was the Honduran leader's strong opposition to U.S. policies.

The interim Honduran government led by Roberto Micheletti has sent a commission to Washington to convince U.S. officials that Mr. Zelaya's ouster was legal.

During a nationally televised address Monday, the acting president called on citizens to rally in support of democracy. He also called on Clinton to convince Mr. Zelaya to engage in dialogue to end the political crisis.

Mr. Zelaya was arrested the same day he planned to hold a referendum on a constitutional change that would have allowed him to seek another term. The Supreme Court had ruled the referendum was illegal.

Mr. Zelaya has upset Honduras' political establishment, including members of his own party, for establishing close ties with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

Tensions are rising in Tegucigalpa, where at least one person was killed Sunday when supporters of Mr. Zelaya clashed with soldiers at the international airport. The clash occurred after military vehicles blocked his plane from landing there, scuttling his vow to return home and retake power.

The ousted president's supporters are calling for more demonstrations Tuesday, including blocking roads and border crossings and staging student strikes.

Washington has frozen aid money to Honduras, and could cut off all assistance if the State Department officially classifies Mr. Zelaya's ouster as a military coup. U.S. aid to Honduras has been averaging about $50 million a year.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.

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