High-level U.S. officials will fly to Jamaica on Tuesday for a meeting that is expected to formalize a Caribbean commitment to a multilateral invasion of Haiti, the State Department said Friday.
Barbados, Jamaica and Belize have agreed to dispatch troops, and Antigua and the Bahamas are expected to do so as well, administration officials said. Most troops would come from the United States.Planning to attend the meeting of Caribbean defense and foreign affairs ministers are Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott and his Pentagon counterpart, John Deutch. They are going at the invitation of the Caribbean Community, or Caricom.
It is expected that all or virtually all of the 13-member Caricom will participate in either the force sent to depose Haiti's military rulers or in "phase two" of the U.N. operation, which includes training of military forces and other activities aimed at bringing stability to Haiti.
Officials said the timing of any invasion is up to President Clinton. Factors cited in favor of an early invasion is the continuing economic and social disintegration of Haiti and the need to have the transition back to democratic rule in a time frame that permits parliamentary elections set for November to proceed more or less on schedule, they said.
The one-day trip by Talbott and Deutch will include a stopover in the Dominican Republic to check on enforcement of U.N. sanctions against Haiti.
It is not clear what the combined contribution of the Caribbean nations would be, but the officials gave an estimate of about 200 troops. They would not be part of the first wave, which would consist entirely of U.S. troops. Joining the American and Caribbean forces would be troops from Britain and Argentina.
As now planned, the duties of the Caribbean forces would include support for local police and maintaining order, along with other peacekeeping duties.
The U.N. Security Council last month authorized use of "all necessary means" to depose Haiti's military rulers and to restore ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to power.
U.N. Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali is attempting to lay the groundwork to persuade Haiti's leaders to surrender voluntarily.
A delegation of U.N. officials arrived Thursday in the Dominican Republic, awaiting a possible meeting with Haiti's military leaders in Port-au-Prince.