Aristide flies into a Caribbean diplomatic row

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The Independent US

Haiti's deposed president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, flew back to the Caribbean from his African exile yesterday, defying the US government and stirring a hornet's nest of diplomatic tensions as he took up an offer of temporary asylum in Jamaica, 150 miles from his homeland.

He travelled there ostensibly to be reunited with his two daughters and make plans for a permanent place of exile, but he has made little secret of his ambition to return to office, prompting accusations from the US and Haitian governments that his presence was an unacceptable provocation.

Haiti's new interim Prime Minister, Gerard Latortue, froze his country's relations with Jamaica and recalled his country's ambassador. The US ambassador to Haiti said the Jamaicans were taking "a risk". He said of Mr Aristide: "His coming within 150 miles from Haiti is promoting violence."

Jamaica holds the rotating presidency of Caricom, the regional organisation that has become an increasingly vocal critic of US policy. "This is not a singular decision from Jamaica. This is a decision by Caricom," said Sharon Hay-Webster, who accompanied Mr Aristide. Mr Aristide says he was forced out by the Americans; they say he resigned.

¿ US troops suffered their first casualty on Sunday night when a marine was shot in the arm in a shanty town where support for Mr Aristide is strong.

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