SAN JOSE, Costa Rica – Delegates representing the ousted and interim governments of Honduras failed to forge an agreement during a second day of talks and no fixed date was set for future negotiations.
The only consensus reached between representatives of forcibly exiled President Manuel Zelaya and de facto leader Roberto Micheletti was that they would meet again, mediator and Costa Rican President Oscar Arias said following Friday's negotiations.
"It is not viable that a conflict this deep could be solved in one meeting," said Arias, adding that the date for the next round of talks would be announced "in the coming days."
Friday's meetings took place without Zelaya and Micheletti, each of whom met separately with Arias on Thursday but refused to talk together. Each continues to insist that the other give up claims to lead the country.
Silvia Ayala, a leftist lawmaker with Zelaya's delegations, said the sides agreed to let Arias set the date for future talks, but urged that they be held soon "because the country can't support weeks of this intolerance."
Former Honduran Foreign Minister Carlos Lopez, of the Micheletti delegation, said his side hasn't ruled out the possibility of early elections as a way out of the crisis. The elections are currently scheduled for November.
Zelaya flew to the Dominican Republic, where President Leonel Fernandez received him Friday with full military honors and promised to speak for him at the upcoming summit of the Nonaligned Movement in Egypt.
Micheletti, the congressional leader who was sworn in as president when the military threw Zelaya out of the country on June 28, was back in Honduras, where he brushed off harsh criticism from Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, a Zelaya supporter.
Chavez "said he was going to invade and he didn't invade us," Micheletti said.
"He said he was going to hold back fuel to Honduras and he didn't. He said he was going to bring Manuel Zelaya back one day and he didn't. Hugo Chavez is losing credibility in the world," Micheletti said.
Chavez denounced the U.S.-backed talks in Costa Rica and said Micheletti should have been arrested instead of being allowed to participate.
"How horrible to see a legitimate president receiving a usurper and giving him the same treatment," Chavez told a news conference in the Venezuelan capital, Caracas, referring to Arias' Thursday night meeting with Micheletti.
Chavez also said that the United States should be putting more pressure on Honduras to return Zelaya to power.
"Why haven't they recalled their ambassador to Honduras? Why haven't they supported sanctions? Economic sanctions? Political sanctions? ... Do something. Obama, do something."
President Barack Obama's administration, the United Nations and the Organization of American States have demanded that Zelaya be returned to power so he can serve out a term that ends in January. No foreign government has recognized Micheletti.
But U.S. officials have promoted the talks in Costa Rica's capital, hoping to ease Zelaya back into the presidency while resolving the concerns of Honduras' Supreme Court, Congress and military, which say they legally removed the president for violating the constitution by maneuvering to extend his time in power.
State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said Friday the pace of negotiations will be set by Arias but that U.S. officials would continue consultations and would work within the OAS "to see if we can't help President Arias create momentum that leads to a peaceful resolution of this."
Arias, who won the 1987 Nobel Peace Prize for his role in ending Central America's civil wars, asked that outside critics of the talks "let Central Americans solve the problems of Central America like we did 20 years ago."
Back in Honduras, a new CID-Gallup poll indicated that citizens were split on the coup, with a slight majority appearing to oppose it.
Forty-six percent said they disagreed with Zelaya's ouster and 41 percent said they approved of it, according to the face-to-face survey of 1,204 Hondurans in the days following the ouster. A further 13 percent declined to answer.
The pollsters said the survey, conducted in 16 of Honduras' 18 provinces from June 30 to July 4, has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.8 percentage points.