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US opposed to Zelaya's Honduras return attempt

The United States is opposed to any attempted return to Honduras of deposed leader Manuel Zelaya, fearing it could jeopardize reconciliation talks hosted by Costa Rican President Oscar Arias.

"View of a governmental poster of ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya placed in the Inter-American highway next to the hamlet of El Durazno, 10 km north of Tegucigalpa. The United States is opposed to any attempted return to Honduras of deposed leader Manuel Zelaya, fearing it could jeopardize reconciliation talks hosted by Costa Rican President Oscar Arias."

"We don't want people to take steps that in any way conflict or don't contribute positively to the Arias mediation efforts," said State Department spokesman Robert Wood.

"Tensions are very high," Wood said. "And what we're trying to do is to get people to really focus on how we can bring about that peaceful... return to democratic and constitutional order."

Zelaya's attempt to return to Honduras "within hours" on Friday, according to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, comes as the United States pushes talks between the deposed leader and interim Honduran president Roberto Micheletti, mediated by Nobel Peace Prize winner Arias.

"We believe the Arias engagement process is the best way to do this," Wood said.

He declined to say whether the United States had tried to convince Zelaya to abandon his return attempt, but a department official who spoke on condition of anonymity said the US position had been made clear to him.

"Supporters of ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya block the Inter-American highway in the hamlet of El Durazno, 10 km north of Tegucigalpa. The United States is opposed to any attempted return to Honduras of deposed leader Manuel Zelaya, fearing it could jeopardize reconciliation talks hosted by Costa Rican President Oscar Arias."

Describing the return plan as "not helpful," the official said Zelaya "is well aware of our position on this.

"What he should do is fully commit himself to this process and give it time," the official said.

Zelaya's regional ally Chavez said earlier that the ousted leader would be reentering Honduras imminently, though he gave no details of how, when or where he would enter the Central American nation.

The deposed head of state tried 10 days ago to return to the country' capital Tegucigalpa, hovering above the city's airport in a Venezuelan plane.

He was forced to abandon the attempt by Honduran military personnel, who blocked the airport's runways with their vehicles on orders from Micheletti's government.