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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

U.S. Turns Up Heat on Haiti Again

KINGSTON, Jamaica -- Haiti's military rulers must step down quickly or face the possibility of invasion by a U.S.-led force of 10,000 or more troops to restore democracy, senior U.S. officials said Tuesday.


"We are not yet to that point but we are moving briskly in that direction," said one of the officials, who spoke to reporters traveling with Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott and Deputy Defense Secretary John Deutch to Jamaica for talks with Caribbean leaders on the Haiti crisis.


"We are very close to exhausting all peaceful means" of political pressure to force Haiti's military to allow deposed President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to return to power, said the official, who asked not to be identified.


Aristide was deposed in a bloody coup nearly three years ago and now lives in exile in the United States.


A UN emissary sent to the Dominican Republic last week failed to pave the way for a last-ditch attempt to persuade Haiti's military rulers to step down, UN sources in New York said Tuesday.


Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali was due to brief Security Council members privately on the failed effort of UN emissary Rolf Knutsson, the sources added.


Giving the first official estimate of the number of troops that would either invade Haiti or go in peacefully to restore order if Lieutenant General Raoul Cedras and other military officers step aside voluntarily, another U.S. official who also asked not to be identified said, "We are probably talking in the range of 10,000 or so for an invasion."


The officials insisted that, despite published reports, U.S. preoccupation with the Cuban refugee crisis was not slowing or derailing its Haiti policy. One added: "We're quite confident we can keep the Haiti policy on track while dealing with Cuba."


Talbott and Deutch held talks Tuesday on Haiti with foreign and defense ministers of the 11-nation Caribbean Community, and U.S. officials said privately that seven of the nations that have military forces -- Barbados, Jamaica, Trinidad, Antigua, Bahamas, Guyana, and Belize -- had expressed interest in contributing troops to any U.S.-led force used in Haiti.


The United States has been working for weeks to get troop commitments from Caribbean and Latin American nations for a multinational force that could invade Haiti under a UN Security Council resolution authorizing "all necessary means" to force the military to step aside for the ousted Aristide.