Hillary Clinton urges the OAS to readmit Honduras

Image caption,
Behind the smiles, there are differences on Honduras

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has urged the Organisation of American States to readmit Honduras, which was suspended last year after the overthrow of president Manuel Zelaya.

Mrs Clinton said the new Honduran President, Porfirio Lobo had shown a strong commitment to democracy and the constitutional order.

She was speaking at the OAS General Assembly in the Peruvian capital, Lima.

Several Latin American nations do not recognise Mr Lobo's government.

Although he came to office in elections scheduled before Mr Zelaya's removal, the vote was organised by the interim government that replaced the Zelaya administration.

Mrs Clinton said the region had seen Honduras elect Mr Lobo in "free and fair" elections and watched him form a truth commission to look into the events behind Mr Zelaya's removal from office.

But Brazil, which sheltered Mr Zelaya in its embassy in Tegucigalpa in support of his claim to return as president, urged OAS members not to rush into readmitting Honduras.

"Honduras's return to the OAS must be linked to specific means for ensuring re-democratisation and the establishment of fundamental rights" Brazil's deputy foreign minister, Antonio de Aguiar Patriota, said.

"It is essential to create conditions for former president Zelaya to fully participate in the political life of Honduras", he added.

Ecuador, Venezuela, Argentina and Nicaragua are also opposed to Honduras's readmission.

Image caption,
Regional opinion is divided over Honduras and President Lobo

Mrs Clinton was in Peru at the start of a regional tour that also takes in it Ecuador and Colombia, as well as Barbados.

It is Mrs Clinton's seventh trip to Latin America and the Caribbean since she became Secretary of State.

Iran deal

Another issue of concern OAS members is a new immigration law in the US state of Arizona.

The law requires police to question people about their immigration status, if officers suspect the person is in the US illegally, and if they have stopped them for a legitimate reason.

OAS Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza has called the legislation, which is due to take effect in July, "an issue of concern to all citizens of the Americas, beginning with the citizens of the United States".

Mrs Clinton is also expected to hold talks on the sidelines with her Brazilian counterpart, Celso Amorim, to discuss the Obama administration's push for new UN sanctions against Iran over its nuclear programme.

Brazil, currently on the UN Security Council, opposes sanctions.

Last month, Brazil and Turkey brokered a deal with Iran on uranium enrichment in an attempt to avert sanctions.

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