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Venezuelan Leader Says Ousted Honduran President Plans Return Home

Venezuela's leftist leader Hugo Chavez says toppled Honduran President Manuel Zelaya is planning a return to Honduras, while a U.S. spokesman called for a peaceful, negotiated solution with those now in power.

Mr. Chavez said Friday on a visit to La Paz, Bolivia, his close regional ally, that Mr. Zelaya, was planning to return to Honduras in coming hours.

This was not confirmed by anyone else. A U.S. state department spokesman (P.J. Crowley) is quoted as saying no country in the region should encourage any action that would potentially increase the risk of violence either in Honduras or in surrounding countries.

A previous attempt by Mr. Zelaya to land in Honduras earlier this month was blocked by the military and led to clashes that left at least one person dead.

Mr. Zelaya was toppled June 28 by the military and opponents who say he was trying to illegally change the constitution in order to extend his time in office.

Mediation talks have been planned for Saturday in Costa Rica between the rival sides in an attempt to set up a national reconciliation government.

Interim President Roberto Micheletti reimposed a late-night curfew this week in an attempt to curb disturbances by Zelaya supporters.

He has said he is open to resigning as long as the ousted president is not allowed to return to power.

The new Honduran leader has also said he will only discuss the deposed president's return to Honduras if Mr. Zelaya faces charges of treason and abuse of power.

For his part, Mr. Zelaya has said the interim government must give him back the presidency within a week or he will abandon mediation talks. Friday, he was reported to be in Nicaragua. Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega is a close ally of both Mr. Zelaya and Mr. Chavez.

The Venezuelan leader, who is very influential in many parts of Latin America, has accused the United States of being behind the coup in Honduras. The accusation has been repeatedly denied in Washington.

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