Honduras' interim leader says ousted President Manuel Zelaya might be allowed to leave the foreign embassy where he has taken refuge without being arrested if he is granted political asylum outside the country.
Interim President Roberto Micheletti told The Associated Press in an interview late Friday that the final decision would be up to the courts to make.
As for him, he said that at least for the moment he won't negotiate face-to-face with Zelaya.
Micheletti positions underscored the total lack of progress the two sides have made in resolving Honduras' political crisis in the five days since Zelaya secretly returned to the country, demanding to be reinstated.
Asked under what circumstances Zelaya could leave the Brazilian Embassy where he took refuge after sneaking into the country on Monday, Micheletti replied, ``either through political asylum or by obeying the courts.''
Micheletti has insisted that if Zelaya stays in the country, he must turn himself over to face charges of treason and abuse of authority for repeatedly ignoring court orders to drop plans for a referendum on rewriting the constitution _ the issue that sparked the coup.
Zelaya has said he has no intention of leaving Honduras _ or abandoning the office to which he was elected.
Micheletti also said that he would not meet with Zelaya.
``I am not going to talk with him at this time, but I have representatives talking with him,'' he told the AP in an interview at government headquarters.
A representative of the interim administration met with Zelaya on Wednesday night ``and the results were nil,'' Micheletti said, adding that Zelaya himself has insisted on 'restoration or death.'''
Micheletti also referred to Zelaya supporters waging protests in the streets as ``nothing more than a group of insurgents.''
``They are nothing more than bums looking for an opportunity to steal,'' he said.
Hopes for a solution had been stoked by the possibility that international mediators would step in to help resolve the crisis.
But Micheletti denied reports that he had invited former U.S. President Jimmy Carter to mediate talks.
Micheletti said representatives from Carter's center, which is dedicated to conflict resolution, would only be invited to act as observers in the Nov. 29 presidential elections.
Also dampening hopes for a near-term resolution, Costa Rican President Oscar Arias, who mediated previous talks, said on Friday that he had no immediate plans to travel to Honduras after Micheletti's government said it wouldn't allow a visit this weekend of several foreign ministers who have offered to help resolve the crisis.
Government spokesman Rene Zepeda said interim leaders want Arias to visit Honduras first so they can explain the situation to him, and that the ministers would be welcome next week.
But in Friday night's interview, Micheletti suggested the whole thing had been a misunderstanding. He said both the foreign ministers and Arias were now welcome to come to Honduras.
Previous negotiations moderated by Arias broke down after Micheletti's government refused to accept a plan that would allow Zelaya to return to the presidency with limited powers and prohibit him from attempting to revise the constitution. Zelaya's term ends in January.
Asked if he thought Hondurans were growing tired of constant curfews, economic paralysis and the cutoff of foreign aid, Micheletti referred to a march of thousands of his mainly well-heeled supporters on Thursday.
``Spirits are not bad among the sector who support the government,'' he said. ``I don't know about the other side.''
While largely unrepentant, Micheletti acknowledged one mistake: ``It was an error to have sent the president, or ex-president, out of the country.''
Zelaya was rousted out of bed at gunpoint on the morning of June 28 and hustled out of the country aboard a plane.
While talks have led nowhere, Micheletti and others in his administration believe the crisis will be resolved with the November presidential election _ even though Zelaya and many foreign governments, including the United States, have said they might not recognize the results.
But Micheletti remains optimistic.
``We have already talked with several neighbouring and friendly countries,'' he said. ``They have told us that if the elections are clean, with a big turnout and democratic, they will re-establish ties with us.''