The New York Times
February 19, 2004

U.S. Drafting Proposal to Help End Haiti's Violence

By CHRISTOPHER MARQUIS
 
ASHINGTON, Feb. 19 Under pressure to help end Haiti's violence, the Bush administration took a more active role today in trying to broker a political settlement, drafting a peace proposal with specific steps the government and its opponents should take.

At the same time, the Pentagon announced that it would send a small military team to Haiti to determine the risk to the American Embassy there. Officials said the team, which will involve about four experts, was requested by the American ambassador to Haiti, James Foley.

More than 50 Haitians have died violently since the uprising began two weeks ago. International relief officials have expressed concern that demonstrators may touch off a humanitarian crisis by interfering with food deliveries.

Working in concert with diplomats from France, Canada and the Caribbean, administration officials put the final details on a plan that calls on President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to appoint a new government, strengthen the police and release detainees, while requiring that his opponents drop their arms and enter a political dialogue.

Secretary of State Colin L. Powell said Mr. Aristide's resignation was not part of the plan, though he left open the possibility that the president might step down under a negotiated settlement.

"If an agreement is reached that moves that in another direction, that's fine," Mr. Powell told Sam Donaldson in an interview today. "But right now, he has no intention to step down, and since he is the elected leader of Haiti, we should not be putting forward a plan that would require him to step down."

Mr. Aristide, a former priest who ministered to Haiti's slums, has repeatedly said that he will serve out his term, which ends in 2006. But he has embraced a regional proposal put forth by the Caribbean Community, which is the basis of the new detailed plan put forth by the administration and its allies.