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Honduran Accord Permits Ousted Leader Zelaya's Return

Honduras' President Porfirio Lobo, left, and Honduras' ousted President Manuel Zelaya, right, shake hands after signing an agreement as Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos applauds in Cartagena, Colombia, May 22, 2011

An accord has been reached that will allow ousted Honduran leader Manuel Zelaya to return to his homeland, and for Honduras to regain entry to the Organization of American States.

Zelaya reached the deal with his successor, current President Porfirio Lobo. Both men smiled and shook hands Sunday as the pact was signed in Cartagena, Colombia, in a deal that brokered by Presidents Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia.

Zelaya was deposed in 2009 by the military after he allegedly tried to change the Honduran constitution to remain in power. The OAS, a Washington-based group of 35 nations in North and South America, subsequently suspended Honduras. But now it says it will move to readmit the Central American nation.

After Zelaya's overthrow, the U.S. and the OAS failed in their efforts to persuade an interim government to restore him to power. Honduras subsequently went ahead with the previously scheduled November 2009 elections and Lobo won.

The U.S. and other countries restored ties with Honduras after the election. But Venezuela, Argentina, Brazil, Nicaragua and Ecuador opposed Honduras' readmission to the OAS unless Zelaya was allowed to return from his exile in the Dominican Republic without facing the threat of being jailed.

The deal calls for his safe return to Honduras, and allows him and his supporters to participate in the country's political affairs, including as a party in the scheduled 2014 elections.

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