Haitians negotiate on democracy: UN mediator shuttles between deposed President Aristide and military leader at meeting on restoring elected government

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The Independent Online
NEW YORK (Reuter) - Talks aimed at restoring democracy to Haiti finally started yesterday with a United Nations mediator shuttling between the exiled president, Jean- Bertrand Aristide, and the military leader who deposed him, General Raoul Cedras.

The talks, originally scheduled for UN headquarters, took place on Governors Island, a US Coast Guard station off Manhattan. They were shifted to the isolated location because of worries about demonstrations outside the UN by Haitian exiles opposed to military rule. Some 2,000 people were waiting there. The two men, even though only a few hundred feet apart, did not meet.

The meeting was expected to cover a date for Fr Aristide, deposed in a coup in September 1991, to return; arrangements for the military to relinquish power; the dismissal of some key army commanders and the resignation of the police chief of the capital Port-au-Prince.

'The attitude is very positive on both sides,' said a UN spokesman.

There was no immediate indication when the 'proximity talks' might develop into face-to-face meetings between Fr Aristide and Gen Cedras.

(Photograph omitted)