Negotiators trying to resolve the Honduran political crisis said talks have broken off, the third such announcement in the past week.
The interim government declared the negotiations collapsed hours after making a new offer to the delegation representing ousted President Manuel Zelaya, which had set a midnight deadline for an agreement to reinstate the leader who was deposed in a June 28 coup.
“We can’t do anything but express our regret for not satisfactorily concluding the talks due to the stubbornness of our counterparts,” said Vilma Morales, a representative of interim President Robert Micheletti.
Zelaya negotiator Victor Meza earlier in the day also said negotiations had broken down.
John Biehl, a special envoy for the Organisation of American States sent to Honduras to facilitate the dialogue, said “for us the suspension of the talks is a break, a time for reflection”.
Mr Biehl said he would return to Washington to consult with the OAS on how to better help the situation in Honduras.
Earlier, Ms Morales said the administration was willing to let Zelaya appeal directly to the country’s legislature to decide whether he should be restored to office.
Mr Micheletti had previously insisted the decision be left to the Supreme Court, which had already ruled out Mr Zelaya’s reinstatement.
Mr Zelaya has said he wants Congress to make the decision, even though the latest estimates suggest he currently enjoys the support of only about a fifth of politicians.
The interim government also suggested a solution in which both Mr Micheletti and Mr Zelaya would renounce any claim to the presidency, with a third party designated to serve out the three months left in Mr Zelaya’s term. Mr Zelaya has rejected similar proposals in the past.
“It is unacceptable, because it goes against our basic principle of reinstatement”, said Mr Meza.
The international community has called for Mr Zelaya’s reinstatement, while the interim government hopes to weather diplomatic isolation and sanctions until previously scheduled presidential elections on November 29.
But many governments, including the US, have said they will not recognise the vote unless Mr Zelaya is back in office by then.
Mr Meza accused the government of using the talks to buy time, saying that “for us, there is no room to continue talks with people who are only seeking to draw out the discussion”.