The United States says it is cutting a broad range of economic aid to Honduras, over the June 28 ouster of President Manuel Zelaya. The State Department's announcement on Thursday came as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with the deposed Honduran leader in Washington.
The decision came a day after President Manuel Zelaya urged U.S. leaders to take tougher actions in condemning his removal from power more than two months ago.
Thursday, the State Department made permanent a suspension of some $30 million in aid imposed after Mr. Zelaya was deposed. In a statement, the State Department said the decision was made in recognition of the de facto regime's failure to restore democratic, constitutional rule to Honduras.
During a press briefing in Washington, Assistant U.S. Secretary of State Philip Crowley urged the interim Honduran government to accept a Costa-Rican brokered plan that would reinstate Mr. Zelaya. "Today's action sends a clear message to the de facto regime that the status quo is unacceptable and that their strategy to try to run out the clock on President Zelaya's term of office is unacceptable," he said.
The State Department on Thursday stopped short of formally calling Mr. Zelaya's ouster a military coup d'etat, which carries with it harsher aid penalties mandated by Congress. In its statement, the State Department said Clinton's decision "recognizes the complicated nature of the actions" that led to the Honduran president's departure.
Mr. Zelaya's arrest by Honduran troops and deportation to Costa Rica was triggered by his efforts to hold a referendum that could have kept him in office beyond the end of his term in January. Coup supporters said the left-leaning Mr. Zelaya sought to violate the country's constitution, and that interim President Roberto Micheletti was legally installed.
State Department officials said Thursday the restoration of the terminated assistance will be dependent upon a return to democratic governance in Honduras.
Officials say the U.S. will not recognize the outcome of presidential elections scheduled for November, under current conditions. Assistant Secretary of State Crowley expressed hope that all sides in the political impasse will be able to reach an agreement soon.
"This is about getting to January 27, 2010, where you have a new government in place in Honduras, one that has come into office through legitimate means and one that the people of Honduras can believe in, and one that the United States and the rest of the region can support," he said.
Aside from the cut in aid, the State Department on Thursday also announced it would revoke the U.S. visas of an unspecified number of Honduran officials, who are backing Zelaya's replacement, Roberto Micheletti.