US Reduces Military Cooperation With Honduras, But Keeps Ambassador in Place

Source: M & C

The United States has scaled back its military cooperation with Honduras following the overthrow of President Manuel Zelaya but will keep its ambassador in place, US officials said Wednesday.

The decision to suspend military ties affects combined training exercises and counter-narcotics operations as well as non-emergency humanitarian assistance, Jose Ruiz, a spokesman for US Southern Command in Miami, said.

‘The command has made a decision to reduce military interaction with the Honduran armed forces in light of the recent events in Honduras,’ Ruiz said. There are about 600 US personnel jointly using the Soto Cano base with Honduran forces.

The Honduran military staged a coup against Zelaya on Sunday and flew him to Costa Rica. Zelaya travelled to the United States Tuesday to hold meetings with US and UN officials and at the Organization of American States.

The coup prompted worldwide condemnation and Honduras’s new leadership has found itself increasingly isolated. Many countries, including France and Spain, have recalled their ambassadors. But a US official said Washington for now has no plans to pull its representative from Tegucigalpa.

‘We believe it is important at this point in time to maintain a presence in Honduras at the ambassadorial level to engage Honduran civil society,’ a senior State Department official said.

The OAS has given the new Honduran civilian leadership three days to restore Zelaya to power or face expulsion from the organization.

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