- The Washington Times - Monday, August 3, 2009

‘MEDDLING’ IN HONDURAS

The interim president of Honduras is angered over reports that the U.S. ambassador to the Central American nation met privately in neighboring Nicaragua with Manuel Zelaya, who was ousted from the presidency in June, and another member of what he is calling Mr. Zelaya’s “government in exile.”

Radio Havana, the government radio station in communist Cuba, reported last week that Ambassador Hugo Llorens traveled to the Nicaraguan capital, Managua, to meet with Mr. Zelaya and his foreign minister, Patricia Rodas.

“The ambassador is making a serious mistake, if he has done that,” said Roberto Micheletti, the former speaker of the Honduran Congress who was appointed to replace Mr. Zelaya as interim president.

Mr. Micheletti, responding to a reporter’s question in the Honduran capital, Tegucigalpa, on Friday, said, “If you are sure that [meeting] has taken place and that [the ambassador] has met with Zelaya, it is meddling.”

“We don’t want any country meddling in Honduras’ affairs,” he added.

Meanwhile in Washington, the leading Republican on the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations called on Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to explain U.S. policy toward Honduras.

Sen. Richard G. Lugar of Indiana added that Mrs. Clinton should also meet with senators who are questioning whether the Obama administration is trying to force the reinstatement of the left-wing ousted Honduran president. Mr. Lugar said such a meeting would “improve the prospects” of getting Arturo Valenzuela approved as assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs. Sen. Jim DeMint, South Carolina Republican, is holding up the nomination.

“The complexity of events that led up to the Honduran crisis has given rise to questions regarding U.S. policy,” Mr. Lugar said in a letter his staff provided to the Reuters news agency.

“I request that the Department [of State] provide interested Members a detailed clarification of the steps that it has taken, and intends to take, in response to the events that transpired in the run-up to and period after the forced removal of President Manuel Zelaya from Honduras.”

The United States refuses to recognize the interim government and has endorsed mediation efforts of Oscar Arias, the president of Costa Rica.

In late June, the Honduran Supreme Court ruled that Mr. Zelaya violated the country’s constitution by trying to conduct an unauthorized referendum on allowing the president to run for re-election and ordered the army to arrest him. The military flew him into exile in Costa Rica.

Diplomatic traffic

Foreign visitors in Washington this week:

Tuesday

Valentina Cusnir, a former member of the parliament of Moldova, and Nadine Gogu, acting director of the Independent Journalism Center in Chisinau, Moldova. They testify before the congressional Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe about the first round of Moldovan national elections in a hearing at 2 p.m. in Rooms SVC 202/203 of the Capitol Visitor Center.

Thursday

Monty P. Jones, executive director of the Ghana-based Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa, who discusses improvements in African food production in a briefing at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Friday

Micheline Calmy-Rey, the Swiss foreign minister, who meets with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Sigrid Arzt, public policy scholar and former national security adviser to President Felipe Calderon of Mexico, who discusses national security and government transparency in Mexico in a forum at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison@ washingtontimes.com.

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