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Blinken to consult on Haiti force on Caribbean trip

#Blinken #consult #Haiti #force #Caribbean #trip

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will meet with Haiti’s embattled prime minister and Caribbean nations next week on calls for an international force in the crisis-wracked nation, officials said Friday.

Blinken will travel on Wednesday to Trinidad and Tobago for a summit of the Caribbean Community, or CARICOM, and also visit the South American nation of Guyana the following day, the State Department said.

At the summit, Blinken will meet Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry on the multiple overlapping crises in the Western Hemisphere’s poorest nation.

Blinken will “urge Prime Minister Henry to work urgently with Haitian stakeholders to enlarge the political consensus and fashion a political path forward that returns Haiti to democratic order,” said Barbara Feinstein, the deputy assistant secretary of state for Caribbean affairs and Haiti.

Henry has been calling for nearly a year for a multinational force to stabilize the country, where armed gangs have taken over large areas amid a breakdown of order, an economic implosion and a public health crisis.

Henry’s own authority has been questioned as Haiti has not held elections since 2016 and the president, Jovenel Moise, was assassinated in July 2021.

Despite pleas from the United Nations, no country has been willing to step forward to lead a multinational force, fearing high risks with uncertain chances of success.

Canada and Brazil have both been heavily involved in discussions and several Caribbean nations have backed a multinational force.

President Joe Biden has made clear that the United States, which has a long history of intervention in Haiti, will not lead a force and instead wants to focus on bolstering the fledgling national police.

“It remains the United States position that that is critical — that we ought to respond as a global community to the Haitian people’s call for enhanced security assistance given the untenable situation on the ground,” Feinstein said.

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