U.S., allies back U.N. force to help transition in Haiti


ST. GEORGE'S, Grenada -- In an attempt to guarantee peaceful transition to democracy in Haiti, the United States and several allies will sponsor a Security Council vote this week to authorize the quick deployment of a 500-member international police force there, according to administration and U.N. officials.

Foreign ministers from the Caribbean were meeting here today with U.N. diplomats who will brief them on the effort and seek their support.

The council was expected to approve the measure, officials involved in planning the force said.

"I would think this would move very rapidly," a senior Clinton administration official said yesterday. "The only major obstacle would be a logistical one, pulling people together from a variety of places."

Although the exact composition of the force has not been determined, officials said it was likely to be dominated by French- and Creole-speaking countries, including France, Canada and several Caribbean countries. Officials said Venezuela might also take part.

President Clinton first spoke last week of the necessity of an international police force to restore the elected president, the Rev. Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who was overthrown in a violent military coup in September 1991. Since then, senior administration officials have said that such a force is required in Haiti as diplomatic efforts proceed, because of sharp class divisions, a long history of political violence and a pervasive climate of fear.

The emerging settlement calls for the granting of an amnesty by Mr. Aristide to his enemies in the army, the resignation of the army command, the formation of a new, broad-based government, the injection of large amounts of foreign aid and technical support and Mr. Aristide's early return from exile in Washington.

Officials close to the Haitian diplomacy have said that although no final agreements are in place, the country's military command is expected to support the deployment of the international police force.

U.N. officials said this was the first time the organization had mounted an international police force in a country not engaged in a civil war or international conflict.

Opponents of Mr. Aristide are concentrated among Haiti's small privileged classes.

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