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OAS gives 3-day deadline to Honduran coup leaders

HONDURAN coup leaders have three days to restore deposed President Manuel Zelaya to power, the Organization of American States said today, before Honduras risks being suspended from the group.

OAS Secretary-General Jose Miguel Insulza delivered what he called "an ultimatum" as OAS talks regarding the crisis wound past the eight-hour mark.

Saying the OAS condemned what he called an "old-fashioned coup," Insulza said: "We need to show clearly that military coups will not be accepted. We thought we were in an era when military coups were no longer possible in this hemisphere."

The 72-hour period appears designed to cover plans for Zelaya, who was ousted in a coup Sunday, to go home, accompanied by the presidents of Argentina and Ecuador, and seek restoration of his authority. However, Roberto Micheletti, named by Honduras' Congress as the new president, said yesterday that Zelaya could be met with an arrest warrant.

Zelaya met last night with envoys to the OAS to discuss what Argentina's foreign minister called an urgent and dangerous situation in Honduras.

Argentine Foreign Minister Jorge Taiana and other Western Hemisphere ambassadors waited for 3? hours as Zelaya made his way from New York, where earlier yesterday the UN General Assembly denounced the military coup that drove him from power Sunday. They demanded his immediate return to office.

Taiana, who was presiding over a special session of the 34-nation assembly, said if the diplomatic approach does not prevail, "we have to take the decision to suspend Honduras in its rights and duties in this organization."

When Zelaya arrived at the OAS building on Constitution Avenue, within blocks of the White House, he met first with Insulza. Zelaya has called the coup the work of "a small group of usurpers" who carried out "an act of aggression attacking the democratic will of the people."

Albert Rambin, the OAS' assistant secretary-general, said Micheletti intended to send a Honduran delegation to the OAS, but it would not be accepted.

The UN adopted a resolution calling on all 192 UN member states not to recognize any government in Honduras other than Zelaya's.

At the White House, press secretary Robert Gibbs said there are no plans to recall the US ambassador to Honduras.

The United States said it saw no acceptable solution to Zelaya's ouster other than returning him to power. State Department spokesman Ian Kelly told reporters that the US was still reviewing whether to cut off aid to the Central American nation.


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