Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told Latin American leaders Thursday it is time to move forward on restoring relations with Honduras after last year's coup. She holds a key meeting with Central American leaders on Honduras and other issues Friday in Guatemala City.
Clinton, on a six-nation Latin American tour, has encountered resistance to an early return to normal relations with Honduras from officials in Argentina and Brazil.
But at a press event with Costa Rican President Oscar Arias, a critical mediator in the Honduran crisis, the Secretary of State said last November's internationally-recognized elections in Honduras, and subsequent steps by new President Porfirio Lobo, should clear the way for the country's reintegration in the Hemisphere.
"President Lobo has moved quickly to implement many of the recommendations that first came from President Arias' work on the San Jose accords, and were incorporated into the Tegucigalpa accord," said Hillary Clinton. "He [Lobo] has a unity government. He has a truth commission that will be stood up. He expedited the safe departure of former President Zelaya. And we think that Honduras has taken important and necessary steps that deserve the recognition and the normalization of relations."
Brazilian leaders told Clinton earlier this week they had reservations about early normalization in the absence, of among other things, provisions for the return home of ousted former Honduran President Manuel Zelaya, who has gone into exile in the Dominican Republic.
The Organization of American States suspended Honduras after the coup last June and the United States suspended most aid. Clinton said she has sent a letter to Congress telling legislators the administration will resume aid, and said other states in the Hemisphere should not delay normalization steps.
"Other countries of the region say that they want to wait a while," she said. "I don't know what they're waiting for, but that's their right to wait. We believe that President Lobo and his administration have taken the steps necessary to restore democracy. And we share the condemnation of the coup that occurred but we think it's time to move forward and insure that such disruptions of democracy do not and cannot happen in the future."
Clinton ends her most extensive Latin America trip since taking office on Friday, meeting in Guatemala City with the leaders of several Central American countries and the Dominican Republic including Mr. Lobo of Honduras.
In San Jose, she took part in a ministerial meeting of the Pathways to Prosperity, a Hemispheric grouping aimed at promoting inclusive economic growth and social reforms
In a policy speech, she urged regional support for earthquake ravaged Chile, and long-term assistance including trade preferences to help revive industry in Haiti after its disastrous earthquake in January.
She called for efforts to promote the rights of women and historically-marginalized indigenous and African populations in Latin America, reiterating themes sounded late Thursday in a town-hall meeting at a largely Afro-Brazilian university in Sao Paulo.