The United States is trying to organize a multinational peacekeeping force that would be deployed in Haiti if the military regime there falls, Secretary of State Warren Christopher said Monday.
He said President Clinton has asked U.N. Ambassador Madeleine Albright to "sound out other countries" about their willingness to participate in such a force. She raised the issue in Ottawa on Monday with Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien and Foreign Minister Andre Ouellet. A U.S. official said the Canadians promised to consider the request.
Christopher said the peacekeeping force was first proposed as part of the Governors Island agreement signed last July in New York's harbor. Under that pact, the Haitian military agreed to relinquish power and permit the return of exiled President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
But when U.S. and Canadian peacekeepers tried to disembark at Port-au-Prince in October, armed thugs forced the ship to return to the United States.
The timing of the U.S. diplomatic effort was clearly linked to new economic sanctions the U.N. Security Council approved against Haiti last week, officials said.
Christopher did not say whether Clinton is prepared to commit U.S. troops to such a force, but another official said U.S. participation would be "logical."
In her meetings with Canadian officials, Albright discussed whether Canada would accept some Haitian refugees seeking political asylum. A U.S. official said the Canadians promised to study the request.
Times staff writer Stanley Meisler in Washington contributed to this report.