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News Analysis: France, US show coordination, contention in Haiti crisis
www.chinaview.cn 2004-03-02 14:56:21

    PARIS, March 1 (Xinhuanet) -- The crisis in Haiti seemed to come to a pause with the departure of its ex-President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and the deployment of a multinational force approved by the United Nations.

    Aristide, Haiti's first democratically-elected president since its independence in 1804, resigned and flew into exile Sunday under mounting pressure from rebels, the opposition and the international community following a three-week rebellion that has ravaged the Caribbean nation.

    France dispatched 300 troops to Haiti on Monday after the UN Security Council voted unanimously for the deployment of a multinational force to restore law and order there. Some 300 American Marines arrived in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince earlier in the day.

    Does it mean a "perfect coordination" between Paris and Washington as praised by French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin?

    "The dialogue with the United States since the start of the crisis in Haiti was conducted in an excellent atmosphere and the departure of President Aristide was the result of perfect coordination between the two governments," de Villepin told reporters in Tokyo on Monday.

    France was the first to propose sending an international peacekeeping force to the violence-wrecked country and openly called for Aristide's resignation on Feb. 27 at a meeting between Foreign Minister de Villepin and Haitian government representatives in Paris.

    "It is more important than ever that the Haitians work to put in place a government of national unity and transition which will be in charge of working for national reconciliation in conformity with the plan of action defined by the Caribbean Community," said Herve Ladsous, spokesman of

Franch forces arrive in Haiti

the French Foreign Ministry.

    France's active involvement resulted from its historical and geographical links with Haiti, a former French colony in the Caribbean Sea, where the two French overseas provinces of Guadeloupe and Martinique are also located.

    As a French-speaking country with an area of less than 30,000 square km and a population of 8 million, Haiti was among the first to gain independence from France 200 years ago. It is astonishing that there are now 100,000 Haitians living in its two Caribbean territories, compared with 20,000 in 1990.

    It is well remembered that the French Defense Ministry dismissed on Feb. 19 a French deployment project after US Secretary of State Colin Powell announced that Washington had no plan for an international intervention following his telephone conversations with his French counterpart on the issue.

    US hesitation contrasted sharply not only with France's willingness but also with its 1994 intervention in Haiti when it sent a 20,000-strong force to help put Aristide back to office following a coup.

    In fact, differences between the US Democrats and Republicans led to Washington's prudence to launch a humanitarian interventionin Haiti, which is only 900 km away from the US state of Florida.

    An African-American lobby backs Aristide while the Republicans favor his opponents, who accused the embattled president of breaking promises to help the poor, allowing corruption fueled by drug-trafficking and masterminding attacks on opponents by armed gangs.

    Facing the upcoming presidential election, Washington is unlikely to give asylum to Haitian refugees. Some 500 Haitians trying to flee their country were forced back Friday by the US Coast Guard.

    If Paris acted for the need to prevent a humanitarian disaster in Haiti, Washington can be said to follow suit reluctantly as it would not allow France to take charge in its own backyard.

    "The US logic is one of great prudence when it comes to humanitarian intervention. France acts on the basis that there is a risk of humanitarian tragedy," said a Paris-base analyst.

    However, called by the French newspaper Le Monde as a "model of coordinated action," the US-French intervention in Haiti offered achance for the two countries to mend their ties soured by their disputes over the Iraq war. Enditem

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