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U.S. cuts millions in aid to Honduras

Ousted Honduras  President Manuel Zelaya speaks to  the media in Washington, D.C., on Thursday.  (Associated Press / The Spokesman-Review)
Ousted Honduras President Manuel Zelaya speaks to the media in Washington, D.C., on Thursday. (Associated Press / The Spokesman-Review)
Tyler Bridges McClatchy

The Obama administration Thursday ratcheted up the pressure on Honduras’ coup-installed government to step down by cutting all nonhumanitarian aid to the poor Central American country.

The U.S. announcement means a cutoff of some $32 million in aid planned for Honduras. It was accompanied by a decision to revoke visas for senior officials involved with the June 28 coup that hustled President Manuel Zelaya out of the country in his pajamas.

But the administration stopped short of tougher measures that would force de facto President Roberto Micheletti to step aside and allow the reinstatement of Zelaya for the final 140 days of his term.

The decision was announced as Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton met Zelaya in Washington. Clinton had previously criticized Zelaya for making a showy attempt to cross into Honduras, and she asked both sides to negotiate an agreement and refrain from provocative statements or acts that might hinder a negotiated settlement, a spokesman said.

The State Department said Clinton chose not to label the ouster of Zelaya as a “military” coup, a legal determination that would’ve triggered sharper U.S. sanctions against Honduras.

“They are taking a cautious, pragmatic, middle-of-the-road approach,” said Orlando Perez, a Central Michigan University professor who closely follows Honduras.

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