12 Jul 2009

Two days of talks get Honduran rivals nowhere

5:59 am on 12 July 2009

Two days of talks on the political crisis in Honduras have ended without agreement.

President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, a supporter of the deposed president, Manuel Zelaya, says the talks were dead before they started.

Mr Chavez says the United States' backing of the talks legitimises the military coup that overthrew the elected government of Honduras.

Mr Zelaya and interim president Roberto Micheletti held separate meetings with the chief mediator, Costa Rican president Oscar Arias, on Thursday; each had made it a condition of attending talks that he would not have to meet the other.

Mr Zelaya was forced out of Honduras by the army on 28 June after he tried to hold a non-binding public consultation to ask people whether they supported moves to change the constitution.

Opponents say that could have led to the removal of a current one-term limit on serving as president and so paved the way for his possible re-election.

An attempt by Mr Zelaya to return failed on Sunday when soldiers blocked an airport runway, preventing a landing of a plane provided by Mr Chavez.

'Little black man' taunter forced to resign

Meanwhile, the interim Honduran foreign minister has resigned after calling US president Barack Obama "a little black man".

Mr Micheletti described the comment as scandalous.

Mr Obama has refused to recognise the interim government in Honduras.