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Honduras Presses Brazil Over Refuge to Ousted President


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The Honduran de facto government is pressing Brazil about its decision to grant refuge to ousted President Manuel Zelaya at its embassy in Tegucigalpa. The Honduran capital, where the ousted leader is seeking to return to power.

Honduran officials asked Brazil's government to respond, within 10 days, to define the status of ousted President Zelaya, who has been living in the Brazilian embassy for nearly a week. Interim officials have criticized Mr. Zelaya for secretly entering the country and using the Brazilian embassy as safe haven to call on his supporters to hold demonstrations.

The de facto government's foreign minister, Carlos Lopez, said Sunday that Brazil's government bears some responsibility for the current situation.

Lopez says someone at the embassy allowed Mr. Zelaya to enter the building, so Brazil is directly responsible.

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva rejects what he calls an ultimatum from a coup government. The Brazilian leader has said Mr. Zelaya is welcome to remain in the embassy as long as he likes.

Lopez also announced plans to revoke the diplomatic status of the Brazilian embassy, because the government in Brasilia has refused to recognize the de facto government. But he stressed that officials do not plan to enter the compound to carry out the order to remove the diplomatic seal or seize Mr. Zelaya.

Lopez says Brazil acted first to break relations with the current government in Honduras. He says, now, his officials are taking reciprocal action.

Officials also plan action to revoke the diplomatic status of delegations from Spain, Mexico, Argentina and Venezuela, which do not recognize the current government. Lopez says diplomats from those countries should hand over their credentials in coming days.

Also Sunday, Honduran officials refused entry to four delegates from the Organization of American States who arrived at the airport in Tegucigalpa. A fifth delegate from Chile was allowed to enter on a mission to prepare for the arrival of a high-level group of mediators. OAS Secretary-General Jose Miguel Insulza condemned the action, saying it was a threat to peace efforts in Honduras.

Foreign Minister Lopez says the OAS delegates had been told, in advance, they would be refused entry to the country. Last week, the de facto government turned down an OAS request to send foreign ministers to mediate an end to the political crisis. Instead, Honduras has backed a visit by Costa Rica's President Oscar Arias to mediate talks between Mr. Zelaya and the de facto government.

Three months ago, the Honduran Supreme Court stripped power from Mr. Zelaya, who was seized by military forces and removed from the country. He is demanding to return to power and finish the remaining four months of his term. The de facto government has rejected the demand, saying Mr. Zelaya is facing 18 criminal charges, including treason.