Haiti warned invasion is near

KINGSTON (Reuter) - The United States and Caribbean nations said yesterday that they were 'moving briskly' in the direction of a military invasion of Haiti and a US-led force would begin training in Puerto Rico.

'Our governments are equally united in their determination to take all necessary means to carry out the (UN) Security Council mandate to restore the democratic process in Haiti,' said a statement issued by senior US and Caribbean officials after a meeting in Jamaica on the Haiti crisis.

'Training is planned to begin immediately for the multi-national force,' Deputy US Defence Secretary John Deutch said. He said it was expected to take place at the US military base at Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico.

Deputy US Secretary of State Strobe Talbott and officials of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) hoped that Haiti's military rulers would step aside soon and allow elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to return to power. If they did not, a multi-national force would remove them. Senior US officials told reporters privately that the US-led force was expected to total about 10,000 troops, most of them Americans. Mr Aristide was deposed in a bloody coup nearly three years ago and now lives in exile in the US.

In New York, UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros Ghali said the world body has failed to arrange a last-ditch bid to persuade Haiti's military rulers to step down peacefully. He declined to say whether the next step was likely to be a US-led invasion of Haiti, as authorised by a 31 July Security Council resolution demanding the restoration of Mr Aristide.