Caribbean Community postpones meeting with U.S. Homeland Security secretary over Haiti differences

27 avril 2004 | Associated Press

GEORGETOWN, Guyana — The Caribbean has indefinitely postponed a meeting of its national security ministers with U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge because of major differences over Haiti, officials said Tuesday.

Caribbean Community Secretary General Edwin Carrington said the May 3-4 meeting in the Bahamas won’t take place because the 15-member regional bloc does not recognize the new U.S.-backed Haitian interim government.

The community, also known as Caricom, has called for a U.N. investigation of Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide?s departure from Haiti on Feb. 29. Aristide says he was forced to resign by the United States, which denies the claim.

The U.S. administration has insisted that Haiti – a member of the community – sit at the Bahamas meeting, Carrington said.

Trinidad Prime Minister Patrick Manning was scheduled to lead the Caribbean delegation at the Bahamas meeting which was to focus on a joint effort in combating terrorism.

A second meeting of U.S. and Caribbean security officials, planned for Thursday and Friday in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, will also be canceled, Carrington said. Ridge was not scheduled to attend the St. Vincent meeting.

It was not clear if the meetings would be rescheduled.

Caricom has said it would reconsider the issue of recognizing Haiti’s interim government in July. But Caribbean leaders may discuss the issue earlier at a regional meeting from May 4-5 in Antigua, Foreign Minister K.D. Knight said Tuesday.

Haiti’s interim government headed by Prime Minister Gerard Latortue will be in place until next year when general elections are held. No one in the interim government will be allowed to participate in the elected government.

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