Obama says Porfirio Lobo helped restore democracy

Barack Obama and Porfirio Lobo shake at the end of their press conference Wednesday. White House photo

U.S. President Barack Obama has welcomed his Honduran counterpart, Porfirio Lobo, to the White House and praised the Honduran leader for what Obama called his strong commitment to democracy following a 2009 coup.

Before the two leaders held talks Wednesday, Obama also spoke of a new chapter in relations and said the coup that ousted then-president Manuel Zelaya threatened to move Honduras away from democracy.

But Obama said Lobo’s leadership is responsible for helping restore constitutional order and democracy and allowing Honduras to rejoin the Organization of American States.

Honduras was suspended from the organization following the widely condemned coup.

Lobo thanked Obama for U.S. support now and during the crisis. Lobo said Honduras is on the road to reconciliation, with political parties scheduled to hold primaries in 2012, and a general election scheduled for the following year.

After Zelaya’s overthrow, the United States and the Organization of American States failed to persuade an interim government to restore him to power. Honduras then held previously scheduled elections, which Lobo won. He took office last year.

He and the president also discussed the drug trafficking situation in Central America. Honduras is a key link in the transportation chain that brings cocaine to the United States by boat and air.

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