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Honduran presidential candidates to meet with Costa Rican president on Wednesday

September 11, 2009

President Oscar Arias will meet Wednesday with four Honduran presidential candidates to deliver a chilling message: Their country – which now borders on the poorest in the Western Hemisphere – will tip further into poverty and isolation if the San José Agreement remains unsigned.

Cut off from the rest of the world and losing much of the foreign aid it generally receives, Honduras was blacklisted by the international community after its president was removed from office at gunpoint on June 28.

Now, nearly three months after the coup, deposed President Manuel Zelaya is still waiting on the outskirts of his country as the San José Agreement (which would restore him to power) goes unsigned.

“The situation will be precarious for the winner of the (November) elections if the San José Agreement is not signed,” Arias told reporters Monday at a press conference announcing the candidates´ visit. Backed by the United States and other regional powers, Arias warned that Honduras will remain isolated if no action to restore Zelaya is taken. “It´s in their interest that the situation returns to normal.”

Craig Kelly, a top official within the U.S. State Department, joined Arias in the announcement.

“We support Arias´ effort to reunite them,” he said, adding that the United States, which recently slashed aid to Honduras, backs any diplomatic effort to “realize the points of the San José Agreement.”

The U.S. government has said it will not recognize the results of Honduras´ elections as long as the accord drafted by Arias isn´t met.

Elvin Santos of the Liberal Party, Porfirio Lobo of the National Party, Felícito Avila of the Christian Democracy Party, and Bernand Martínez of the Innovation and Unity Party have been invited to Casa Presidencial on Wednesday. The Honduran elections are scheduled for Nov. 29, with the victor expected to take office in January.

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