The Army general in charge of U.S. forces sent to Haiti says President Clinton's willingness to negotiate saved hundreds of lives by averting an invasion.

Lt. Gen. Henry Shelton commented Tuesday at a ceremony in the White House Rose Garden in which Clinton decorated him with the Army Distinguished Service Medal.At Shelton's request, six enlisted personnel - one each from the Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard and two from the Army - also received medals from the president.

Shelton, commanding officer of the XVIII Airborne Corps based at Fort Bragg, N.C., headed the Haiti Operation from its inception until he was relieved in October.

He said Clinton's vision in engineering a negotiated settlement with Haiti's military rulers forestalled a planned invasion and "I'm sure saved hundreds of lives."

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Former President Jimmy Carter headed a three-person team that persuaded Haiti's military rulers not to resist U.S. forces. The others were Gen. Colin Powell, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and Sen. Sam Nunn, D-Ga., chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

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