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28155: Durban (pub): NY Times on Rice visit to Caricom (fwd)

LP Durban <lpdurban@yahoo.com> posts N.Y. Times article...

March 23, 2006
Rice Reduces Caribbean Ire, but Falls Short on Aid to Haiti
NASSAU, the Bahamas, March 22 ? After two days of meetings with
Caribbean leaders, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice appeared to have
cooled some of their anger toward the United States but failed to
persuade them to embrace the new government in Haiti, United States
officials said Wednesday.

One goal of her visit here was to persuade the other Caribbean nations
to take forceful steps to help the new Haitian government stabilize the
country and deal with its crushing problems. What she got was a
commitment to readmit Haiti to the Caribbean Community of nations and a
vague promise to help Haiti in the future.

"Where do we go in the future?" asked Fred Mitchell, the Bahamian
foreign minister and chairman of the Caribbean Community. "We remain
engaged" with Haiti "and will continue to review the matter."

Relations between the United States and the Caribbean Community, known
as Caricom, have been strained and embittered for two years, in part
because of opposition here to the war in Iraq but also because of the
role of the United States in Haiti. Many Caribbean leaders contend that
the United States forced President Jean-Bertrand Aristide from power in

Before this visit, Ms. Rice met twice with groups of Caribbean foreign
ministers, once during an Organization of American States meeting last
spring and again at the United Nations in September, but she and her
aides said they realized that she had to come here to begin turning the
situation around. "We intend not just to continue our relationship but
to deepen and broaden" it, she said Wednesday at a news conference with
Mr. Mitchell. Several of the Caribbean foreign ministers listened in
the front row as she spoke.

A joint statement said Ms. Rice "agreed to strengthen cooperation with
a view to enhancing Caricom-U.S. relations." While language like that
is common in such statements, United States officials said they were
encouraged by the reception the Caribbean leaders gave Ms. Rice.

One said, "We are now on the same page." There was no indication,
however, that the Caribbean leaders had softened their position on the
war in Iraq.

The United States officials were less pleased with commitments by
Caricom countries to help Haiti.

"I didn't hear them," a senior administration official said.

At the news conference, Ms. Rice reminded the Caribbean leaders that
"we all have a tremendous stake in the development of a democratic
Haiti that can be self-supporting."

If Haiti falls into chaos once again, she added, "that can have an
effect on this region and, in fact, an effect on the United States."

René Préval, who was elected president on Feb. 7, is to form a
government this spring.