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The Clinton administration's plans for a possible invasion of Haiti have been put on a slower track by the Cuban refugee crisis and myriad diplomatic doubts and problems. But the preparations for a showdown with Haiti's military rulers continue, senior administration officials say.

An invasion to restore the exiled president, the Rev. Jean-Bertrand Aristide, would not take place until after the Cuban crisis is resolved and perhaps not until after the November elections in the United States, some administration officials say.While the delays have raised some concerns in the Pentagon about readiness, in a larger sense no one in the government seems to mind. The administration hopes that the threat of an invasion makes the reality unnecessary. In that light, keeping the wheels of preparation moving, however slowly, has taken on a special importance.

"No one ought to assume that there's been any decline in the urgency of dealing with the situation," said Leon E. Panetta, the White House chief of staff. "No timetable has been set, but I can assure you that we are moving to increase the pressure."

Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott and Deputy Defense Secretary John M. Deutch are to attend a meeting of Caribbean defense and foreign ministers in Kingston, Jamaica, on Tuesday, where the ministers are expected to support an invasion of Haiti.

At least five countries, including Barbados, Jamaica and Belize, are expected to contribute a total of about 200 troops to the 15,000-man, largely American invasion force. The Caribbean troops would not be in the first wave, State Department officials say.

American assurances aside, members of Aristide's government-in-exile express deep concerns that time is slipping away and that the position of the Haitian rulers is growing stronger.

"We have not been walking forward toward a solution and we are impatient that things are standing still," Claudette Werleigh, Aristide's foreign minister, said in a telephone interview. "The military in power is hearing a message that they have more time and they shouldn't worry. They really believe the international community and the U.S. are not so serious or so eager to intervene as the message seems to be sent and to be received."

There are many signs of this go-slow approach, which administration officials acknowledge but attribute more to summer vacations and diplomatic snarls than to lack of interest.

A midlevel U.N. envoy, Rolf Knuttson, is in the Dominican Republic now to arrange a meeting between senior U.N. officials and the Haitian junta, but no one is certain if the generals or their aides will even meet with Knuttson. "If a senior-level meeting happens, it will be to persuade the military to step down," said Ahmad Fawzi, a U.N. spokesman. "We may offer them a boat or a bike or a plane to leave, but there will be no negotiations."

Defense Secretary William J. Perry and Gen. John M. Shali-kash-vi-li, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have argued for giving sanctions as much time to work as possible. But an 88-man international observer force that is supposed to monitor the enforcement of sanctions along the porous border with the Dominican Republic has been mired in bureaucratic wrangling, and is still days away from setting up.

American and Canadian observers say they are ready to go, but Argentine troops are still waiting for approval from the Dominican government.

Sanctions have had an overall "wrecking" effect on the already weak Haitian economy, a State Department official said. Since July 1, inflation has sapped the value of the Haitian currency, the gourde, by 58 percent, the official said, and gasoline is selling at about $9 a gallon, its highest level since January.

But the wealthy elites and military rulers still seem largely insulated from this pressure. The Cuban crisis has led the Navy to reduce the number of ships enforcing the trade embargo from 10 to 6, including two foreign vessels, allowing the elites to rebuild their smuggling networks.

Pentagon officials worry that the delay is complicating questions of military readiness. "At some time soon, we won't be as ready, and we'll have to gear up training again," said a senior Pentagon general.