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Honduras-Based U.S. Troops Not Involved in Coup, Remain Safe

By John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 29, 2009 – American forces stationed in Honduras were not involved in the military coup yesterday and remain safe, a Pentagon official said.

Some 50 miles northwest of the capital city of Tegucigalpa, where President Manuel Zelaya was apparently ousted, the situation is calm at Soto Cano Air Base, Honduras -- home to a 600-strong U.S. contingent, Pentagon Spokesman Bryan Whitman told reporters today.

“The U.S. military is not involved in any of the activities down there and the situation is calm where those forces are located,” he said.

In a statement yesterday, President Barack Obama expressed concern at reports of the Honduran military detaining and expelling Zelaya from the country. News reports said the military ouster came in response to Zelaya’s attempts to extend his presidential tenure beyond the four-year term limit outlined in the Honduran constitution.

“I am deeply concerned by reports coming out of Honduras regarding the detention and expulsion of President Mel Zelaya,” he said. “As the Organization of American States did on Friday, I call on all political and social actors in Honduras to respect democratic norms, the rule of law and the tenets of the Inter-American Democratic Charter.

“Any existing tensions and disputes must be resolved peacefully through dialogue free from any outside interference,” Obama added.

The U.S. forces at Soto Cano comprise Joint Task Force Bravo, which supports joint military exercises, enhances regional security initiatives and coordinates humanitarian relief efforts. Whitman said commanders there have taken “force protection measures.”

“As the United States is monitoring the situation, (the U.S. forces are) essentially holding fast where they’re at,” he said.

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