US says time for OAS to readmit Honduras

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The US government said yesterday it was time for Honduras to be readmitted to the Organization of American States, which suspended the Central American nation after a coup last year.

The creation this week of a truth commission to investigate events surrounding the June coup that ousted former President Manuel Zelaya was a sign that his elected successor, President Porfirio Lobo, was committed to national reconciliation, a US State Department official said.

“It is time for them to be reintegrated,” Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Craig Kelly told Reuters at a Latin American investment summit.

The OAS is a hemispheric forum that groups all democratic countries in the Americas.

Several Latin American governments, including Venezuela and Brazil, have yet to recognize Lobo’s legitimacy as president, while international human rights groups say attacks on Zelaya supporters have continued since Lobo took office in January.

Kelly said Lobo was dedicated to taking on the human rights challenges Honduras faces, such as the murder of journalists.

“It is clear he is sincere,” he added. Kelly praised Lobo for appointing a human rights adviser, Ana Pineda, “a woman of real integrity who really wants to take on these issues.”

Many Latin American nations have sent ambassadors back to Tegucigalpa and are doing normal business with Honduras, Kelly said.

Zelaya was ousted by soldiers after his opponents accused him of trying to change the constitution to run again.

Brazil, which sheltered Zelaya in its embassy in Tegucigalpa for months after he secretly returned from exile, has not ruled out relations with the new government, but wants a common Latin American position.

Lobo has been recognized by the United States, the European Union and most of Central America. But the Unasur group of South American nations, including heavyweight Brazil, shuns contact with him and threatened to boycott a EU-Latin American summit in Spain later this month if Lobo attended.

The Honduran Foreign Ministry said yesterday that Lobo would not attend the summit.

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