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The OAS has demanded Mr. Zelaya’s reinstatement, and Mr. Arias is trying to find a diplomatic compromise with the interim civilian government in Honduras.

Mr. Chavez, in his weekly television and radio program, called on the United States to remove its troops from a military base in Honduras.

“If the United States really does not back the coup, it should withdraw its troops from the Palmerola military base,” he said.

The Palmerola site is a joint U.S.-Honduran air base near Comayagua, about 50 miles northwest of the capital, Tegucigalpa, that opened in 1918. The United States uses Palmerola as a base of operations for the war on drugs in Central America and for humanitarian aid missions.

It houses the Honduran Air Force Academy and the U.S. Joint Task Force Bravo, which includes a military hospital and the UH-60 Black Hawk and CH-47 Chinook helicopters of the 1st Battalion, 228th Aviation Regiment.

The U.S. Embassy in Honduras has also called for a diplomatic solution to the crisis.

“The embassy encourages the pursuit of this regional dialogue to seek a return of the legitimate Honduran government and a restoration of the constitutional and democratic order,” it said.

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