TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras - Honduras' Supreme Court rebuffed apersonal appeal from the Americas' top international diplomatFriday, refusing to restore ousted President Manuel Zelaya before aSaturday deadline.

Jose Miguel Insulza, who heads the Organization of AmericanStates, flew to Honduras in an attempt to persuade the forces thatousted Zelaya to take him back in the face of overwhelminginternational condemnation and economic sanctions.

>> Photos: Manuel Zelaya ousted in Honduras

He met for two hours with Jorge Rivera, president of the SupremeCourt that authorized the military to seize Zelaya on Sunday andfly him into exile.

"Insulza asked Honduras to reinstate Zelaya, but the presidentof the court categorically answered that there is an arrest warrantfor him," said court spokesman Danilo Izaguirre. "Now the OAS hasto decide what it will do."


Insulza made no comments as he emerged from the meeting. He hassaid Honduras will be suspended from the organization, a move thatcould lead to further sanctions against one of the Americas'poorest countries, unless Zelaya is restored by Saturday morning.The OAS has called an emergency meeting in Washington for Saturdayafternoon.

Insulza had conceded before traveling to Honduras that hismission was unlikely to succeed, saying: "It will be very hard toturn things around in a couple of days."

"We are not going to Honduras to negotiate. We are going toHonduras to ask them to change what they have been doing," hesaid.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

Insulza also was meeting with leaders of Congress, "basicallyto clarify exactly what our position is." But he said he would notsee Roberto Micheletti, whom Congress named president afterZelaya's ouster, in order to avoid legitimizing the government.

Micheletti's foreign minister, Enrique Ortez, said that Insulza"can negotiate all he wants, except for Zelaya's situation."

"That is not negotiable because he cannot return to Honduras,and if he does he will be arrested and tried," Ortez said.

Zelaya, who was traveling in Central America, planned to returnto Honduras on Sunday, according to Nicaraguan President DanielOrtega. Zelaya has said he would be traveling with Insulza and thepresidents of Argentina and Ecuador.

Contrary to assertions by the Micheletti government, Interpol onFriday released a statement saying it had not received any requestto issue an arrest warrant for Zelaya.

Micheletti led a raucous chant of "Democracy!" before a giantcrowd waving blue-and-white Honduran flags in front of the palacethat Micheletti has occupied since Zelaya was seized by soldiersand flown into exile. He pledged to stand firm in the face of theinternational pressure.

"I am the president of all Hondurans," he proclaimed.

"They said we were afraid, but here is the proof that thepeople are not afraid," Micheletti yelled. "We are askingHondurans to communicate with their relatives throughout the worldto tell them that no coup took place here."

A rival rally by thousands of Zelaya backers marched to theoffices of the OAS. Marchers carried a banner with a picture ofZelaya and the words: "Mel our friend, the people are with you!"Labor and farm leaders who back Zelaya said they would meet withInsulza on Friday afternoon.

Despite feared violence, the two groups did not clash. Policehelicopters circled overhead and dozens of soldiers and policeguarded the palace.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

Micheletti's supporters say the army was justified in oustingZelaya -- on orders of Congress and the Supreme Court -- because hehad called a referendum which they claim he intended to use toextend his rule. Zelaya denies that and has said he will no longerpress for constitutional changes.

Nations around the world have promised to shun Micheletti, whowas sworn in after the coup, and the nation already is sufferingeconomic reprisals.

Neighboring countries have imposed trade blockades, majorlenders have cut aid, the Obama administration has halted jointmilitary operations and all European Union ambassadors haveabandoned the Honduran capital.

On Friday, the U.S. Embassy in Honduras issued a statementexpressing "deep concern over restrictions imposed on certainfundamental rights" by Micheletti's government, including a curfewin force since Sunday, and "reports of intimidation and censorshipagainst certain individuals and media outlets."

Micheletti's government is so eager to find a friend that itannounced it had been recognized by Israel and Italy -- surprisingthe governments of those countries. Italy withdrew its ambassadorto protest the coup, and Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman YigalPalmor said: "All rumors about Israeli recognition of the newpresident are wholly unfounded."

advertisement | advertise on newsday

Micheletti asked Nobel Peace laureate Rigoberta Menchu to helpmediate the conflict, and she arrived in Tegucigalpa on Friday.

"I come to try to talk with anyone who wants to listen tosearch for peace for this country," she said.

A suspension by the OAS could encourage other organizations andcountries to suspend international aid and loans to Honduras.

Ousted Honduran Finance Minister Rebeca Santos on Friday toldinternational finance ministers in Chile that the coup has alreadyhurt the economy. The World Bank and the Inter-American DevelopmentBank have suspended between $300 million and $450 million infinancing.

>> Photos: Manuel Zelaya ousted in Honduras