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Honduras rivals agree to disagree

HOPES for a quick resolution to the post-coup leadership crisis in Honduras have dimmed, with the two rivals fighting over the presidency refusing to meet.

They emerged from talks in Costa Rica showing no signs of budging from hard-line positions.

"We have no illusions. This may take longer than we imagined," said Costa Rican President Oscar Arias, who hosted separate, closed-door meetings on Thursday with ousted Honduran leader Manuel Zelaya and the man who replaced him after the June 28 coup, Roberto Micheletti.

Arias, who won the 1987 Nobel Peace Prize for helping Central Americans resolve their civil wars, had hoped to bring the rivals together for their first direct meeting since the coup.

"Each one put as a condition that the other not be there, that it wasn't the moment to meet," Costa Rican Information Minister Mayi Antillon said.

The coup crisis has become one of the biggest tests for the Obama administration in Latin America. Arias was invited to mediate by American Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Organization of American States Secretary-General Jose Miguel Insulza expressed concern that if the Honduran crisis was not resolved, "it could leave the door open for other coups in Latin America."

"I'm not going to mention countries," Insulza said in Washington on Thursday.

Zelaya was the first to arrive for the talks at Arias' home in Costa Rica's capital.

Afterward, the leftist rancher who has developed an alliance with Venezuela's Hugo Chavez called for "the reestablishment of the state of law, democracy and the return of the president elected by the Honduran people."


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