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7 CARIBBEAN NATIONS TO JOIN U.S.-LED COALITION

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Seven Caribbean nations have agreed to join an American-led military coalition to remove Haiti's ruling elite, senior U.S. government officials said Tuesday.

The seven were to announce their participation Tuesday at a meeting here of defense and foreign ministers from members of the 13-nation Caribbean Community.The seven are Barbados, Trinidad, Antigua, Bahamas, Guyana, Jamaica and Belize, according to a U.S. official who spoke to reporters en route from Washington on grounds that he not be identified.

Barbados, Jamaica and Belize already had indicated they would contribute to the coalition, which would consist mainly of American troops. The Caribbean forces would perform mainly police functions in the immediate aftermath of an invasion, should President Clinton decide to launch the attack.

"We are very close to exhausting all peaceful means" of restoring democracy in Haiti, the official said. He said the administration was not yet ready to issue a final ultimatum for Haiti's ruling military elite to leave the island.

The planned U.S.-led force would include thousands of troops, supplemented by police, civilian technicians and administrators. Its mission would be to forcibly remove Haitian army chief Lt. Gen. Raoul Cedras and the rest of the military leadership if they do not quit the country first. If the junta leaves, the coalition's task is to restore order.

President Clinton has said the use of military force remains an option, but international efforts are continuing to achieve a peaceful transition. U.N. Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali is attempting to lay the groundwork to persuade Haiti's leaders to surrender peacefully, but the results appear highly uncertain.

The administration on Monday sought to dispel the notion that its plans for a possible invasion to oust Cedras had taken a back seat to the crisis in Cuba.

"The planning is proceeding and it is incorrect to say that the timetable has been set back because of Cuba," said a senior U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Michael McCurry, a State Department spokesman, said, "We prefer to see a peaceful resolution to this crisis."