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Honduras to Let Ousted President Leave

Honduras' interim government said Wednesday night it has authorized ousted President Manuel Zelaya to leave the country and go to Mexico, and a Mexican official confirmed talks were under way on that possibility.

Zelaya told Radio Globo he was negotiating what he called a "consensual solution" to his stay in the Brazilian Embassy, where he has been holed up — surrounded by soldiers — since slipping back into Honduras on Sept. 21.

Zelaya said he had talked with both Mexican President Felipe Calderon and Dominican President Leonel Fernandez. The talks apparently centered on a dignified solution for Zelaya, who has refused any form of political asylum that might hinder his efforts to drum up opposition to the forces that removed him from the presidency in a coup June 28.

Zelaya said he wanted "a negotiated solution ... that respected the law, and respected my office" as president.

He suggested he wanted a status that would "allow me to continue my (political) actions abroad." He operated a sort of government-in-exile from other Latin American nations after being ousted.

"I will not accept any political asylum," Zelaya said, adding that he wanted "hospitality, as a guest, to continue my actions."

A spokesman for the Honduran Foreign Ministry, Milton Mateo, said Mexico had asked for a safe-conduct pass for Zelaya, who has been charged by the interim government with abuse of power. Mateo said the pass had been signed and would be delivered to the Brazilian Embassy, but Zelaya said he hadn't received it yet.

Mateo also said the Mexican government had sent an airplane to pick up Zelaya and his wife, Xiomara, and two of his children.

A Mexican government official, who agreed to discuss the issue if not quoted by name, said the possibility of bringing Zelaya to Mexico was being explored, but could not confirm any arrangements had been made. The official said a plane had apparently been sent or would be sent to Honduras as a result of the talks, but could not provide any details.

The official agreed the talks had centered on exactly what title Zelaya would be given — whether that of a "guest" of the Mexican government, or some other term.

On Tuesday, Porfirio Lobo, the man who won the Nov. 29 election to replace Zelaya, said he supported amnesty for Zelaya and for all of those involved in the coup that deposed him.

Lobo will not take office until Jan. 27, when Zelaya's term ends.

In the meantime, Zelaya would have to deal with interim President Roberto Micheletti, who ringed the Brazilian Embassy with soldiers and pledged to arrest Zelaya if he left the compound — though he also hinted he would be open to letting Zelaya leave for exile or political asylum in another country.

Zelaya has refused to recognize the election, and demanded he be returned to office.

Lobo has said he hopes to open dialogue with Zelaya and start national reconciliation after he takes office.

Lobo's options, however, are limited. Even once in office, he cannot grant Zelaya amnesty from prosecution. That power belongs to the same Congress that voted 111-14 this month against restoring Zelaya to office to serve out his term.

Zelaya faces abuse of power charges for ignoring a Supreme Court order to cancel a referendum on changing the constitution. The dispute led to the coup.

Western Hemisphere countries united to condemn Zelaya's ouster but are divided on whether to recognize Lobo's election.