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Costa Rica’s Arias passes the ball to Hondurans

July 17, 2009

President Oscar Arias is leaving the Honduran conflict in Honduran hands, presenting a draft agreement Wednesday calling for deposed President Manuel Zelaya´s return to power.

Arias pulled himself away from the mediation process by offering the 12-point “San José Agreement”, which the two feuding parties could either accept or reject.

“It is they who should decide if they will sign it,” he said. “I think there are other ways to achieve a solution to the conflict. But I also think that the best is this one.”

The San José Agreement mirrored a seven-point document Arias released during the mediation process over the weekend.

At that time, those representing the standing government of Roberto Micheletti dismissed it. The lead negotiator, Carlos López, addressed Arias, saying, “ I am sorry Mr. President, for the proposals you have presented are unacceptable for the constitutional government that I represent.”

The main point of contention remained whether Zelaya should return to office – a point that Micheletti continues to reject saying that Zelaya broke the law.

Mauricio Villeda, representing the de facto government, invited foreigners to witness what he described as the peace that exists in his country now. He added, “We will transmit this to the authorities … in the hopes that dialogue will continue.”

Arias said both delegations can go to the Organization of American States or seek another forum for dialogue.

But he reminded both delegations that “(lost) time is going to fall on the shoulders of (Honduran) citizens clamoring for peace.”

Arias had invited leaders of all the embassies within San José to witness the reading of the agreement.

Among them was Peter Brennan, a top U.S. embassy official, who said, “Our role is really to support Oscar Arias. But we also believe that Hondurans need to solve this conflict themselves. We – and other international organizations – shouldn´t be out in the middle of it.”

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