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The United States Friday expressed disappointment that efforts to resolve the four-month-long political crisis in Honduras have hit another roadblock. Rival parties in the dispute over who is the Central American country's rightful president failed to meet a deadline Thursday for setting up a national unity government.
Although ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya says efforts to resolve the crisis have failed, the State Department is urging the sides to return to negotiations and resolve differences so the country can have internationally-recognized elections at the end of this month.
The United States was an active supporter of talks that yielded an apparent breakthrough last week under which the Honduran Congress would decide whether Mr. Zelaya, removed by the military last June, would return to office to complete his term, or interim president Roberto Micheletti would continue to run the government until a new president takes office in January.
The sides were able to agree on preliminary steps to implement what's being called the Tegucigalpa-San Jose Accord. But Thursday, despite a commitment to seek a unity government, Micheletti said he was forming a cabinet without the participation of Mr. Zelaya, who declared the process a failure.
At a news briefing, State Department Spokesman Ian Kelly called on both sides to act in the interests of the Honduran people and return to the bargaining table and reach agreement on a unity government, which he said would change the political dynamics of the country in a positive way. "It is urgent that this government be created immediately. The Honduran people have made clear that they want to move forward. They deserve leadership that looks to the future in the interest of all the Honduran people. Complete and timely implementation of the Tegucigalpa-San Jose accord is the path to that future, and the formation of a government of unity and national reconciliation is the next vital step forward," he said.
Though Micheletti and his supporters said the June 28 removal of Mr. Zelaya was in accordance with the country's laws, the United States and other members of the Organization of American States said the ouster was a coup d'etat and demanded Mr. Zelaya's return to power.
But senior U.S. diplomats actively assisted in talks leading to last week's agreement, which would leave the matter to a congressional vote. There is no fixed deadline for the Honduran congress to act. But the United States and other OAS countries have said the issue has to be settled if the presidential election set for November 29th is to have international support and legitimacy.
Spokesman Kelly he would not rule out another emergency mission to Tegucigalpa by senior U.S. diplomats to try to help resolve the latest impasse but said there were no plans for such intercession at the moment.