The Miami Herald
January 17, 2002

Aristide meets leader of Dominican Republic

 SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic -- (AP) -- In his first official visit, Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide arrived Wednesday in the Dominican Republic, a country that shares an island and centuries-old grudges with its Creole-speaking neighbor.

 Soldiers fired a cannon to welcome Aristide, who later hugged Dominican President Hipólito Mejía. The two leaders are to sign an economic agreement and are expected to discuss tough border and immigration issues. Aristide also planned to meet local politicians and leaders in the Haitian community during his one-day visit.

 ``My arms are wide open for Dominicans who want to invest in Haiti,'' Aristide said in Spanish after thanking Dominicans for the welcome.

 His visit comes after the Dominican government's refusal to turn over a former Haitian police official accused of helping to plot a Dec. 17 attack on Haiti's National Palace.

 Gunmen took control of the National Palace for seven hours in what Aristide has called an attempted coup. Ten people died and at least nine were wounded in the attack and violence that followed.

 ``The incidents that occurred Dec. 17 will in no way adversely affect the meeting between the two presidents,'' Aristide spokesman Richard Dumel said from
 Port-au-Prince, Haiti's capital.

 Haitian officials have accused a former police chief, Guy Philippe, of helping plan the attack although he has denied involvement. Philippe was in the Dominican Republic at the time of the attack and is in custody while officials try to find a third country to take him.

                                    © 2002