President Clinton, declaring his impatience with the slow pace of negotiations to restore democracy in Haiti, said Tuesday that he is prepared to take unspecified "stronger measures" to end the military dictatorship there.
Clinton is sending a retired senior U.S. diplomat, Lawrence Pezzullo, to Port-au-Prince this week to tell the leaders of the coup that ousted democratically elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide 17 months ago that continued military rule is unacceptable to the United States.
The President also announced that the United States will contribute to a multinational $1-billion fund to help rebuild the economy of the impoverished Caribbean island.
But Clinton and senior aides pointedly refused to threaten military action or even a naval blockade, saying that the Administration wants to allow a new round of negotiations time to bear fruit.
Clinton met with Aristide in the Oval Office on Tuesday and said afterward: "To those who have blocked the restoration of democracy, I want to make it clear in the strongest possible terms that we will not now or ever support the continuation of an illegal government in Haiti and that we want to step up dramatically the pace of negotiations to restore President Aristide under conditions of national reconciliation and mutual respect for human rights with a program of genuine economic progress.
"Any opposition, any delay will only result in stronger measures taken by the United States and more difficulty and hardship for the people of Haiti who have been the innocent sufferers in this whole sad saga," he added.
Aristide, sitting stiffly and with a mournful countenance, declared himself "totally" satisfied with Clinton's expressions of support.
But despite Clinton's muscular rhetoric, his actions fell far short of what Aristide had come to the White House seeking: a stiff economic embargo against the de facto regime and a deadline by which he should be restored to power.
The U.S. efforts parallel ongoing diplomatic initiatives by the United Nations and the Organization of American States. Former Argentine diplomat Dante Caputo will go to Haiti this weekend to try again to persuade the military junta to step aside.