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Ibero-American Summit Addresses Honduras Coup

Summit statement says Honduras should reinstate ousted President Manuel Zelaya as 'fundamental step' for return to democracy

Leaders from Latin America and former colonial powers Spain and Portugal say Honduras should reinstate ousted President Manuel Zelaya as a "fundamental step" for a return to democracy in that country.

The group issued a statement Tuesday in Estoril, Portugal, after taking part in an annual Ibero-American summit of Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking nations. However, the participants did not say whether the group recognized Sunday's Honduran elections in which conservative Porfirio "Pepe" Lobo claimed victory.

The group's remarks come one day before Honduran lawmakers are scheduled to vote on whether to reinstate Mr. Zelaya to complete his term, which ends in January.

Mr. Zelaya was deposed in a military-backed coup in June and sent into exile. He made a surprise return to Honduras September 21 and has been holed up in the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa since then.

Mr. Zelaya has said Sunday's election was not legitimate. Many major South American countries, including Argentina, Brazil and Venezuela, have refused to recognize the results. Neither Mr. Zelaya nor Roberto Micheletti, the interim president, competed in the poll.

On Monday, the United States said the election was an important step forward, but was not sufficient to restore democracy to Honduras. Assistant Secretary of State Arturo Valenzuela said Honduras also must form a government of national unity and a truth commission to seek reconciliation.

Valenzuela did not directly say whether the U.S. will recognize the new government.

Mr. Lobo, a wealthy rancher from the conservative opposition National Party, is pledging to end the country's isolation from the international community and repair the diplomatic and economic relations strained by the June 28 coup.

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