US ultimatum to Haitian generals

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THE United States last night warned Haiti's military rulers to leave their country quickly or face the prospect of capture by an invading international force and being turned over to a new Haitian government.

Increasing pressure for General Raoul Cedras and his colleagues to step aside, senior US officials also stressed that any US-led invasion would use overwhelming force to hold down casualties and be under American command.

'If General Cedras and his colleagues are still in Port-au-Prince when the multinational force goes in, I think it is a dead certainty that they would be apprehended and, in due course, turned over to the legitimate government of Haiti which would be restored,' Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott told reporters.

His statement on capture by a military force recalled the fate of former Panamanian dictator General Manuel Noriega, who was captured by the US military in a 1990 invasion and is now serving a long prison sentence in the United States on drug charges.

Meanwhile, Britain has offered to help the US in military operations off Haiti, including invasion, if the military government cannot be removed by other means.

On Tuesday night the Foreign Office offered the services of two ships and a small training team to assist in US-led embargo operations. The Pentagon said command arrangements had not been finalised but the US would provide a 'substantial contribution'.

UN Security Council Resolution 940 authorises member nations to use 'all necessary means to facilitate the departure from Haiti of the military leadership and to maintain and establish a secure and stable environment'.

The Foreign Office has offered the West Indies guard ship, HMS Broadsword, a Type-22 frigate and veteran of the Falklands war, the Royal Fleet Auxiliary Oakleaf and a small team to train the Caribbean Community battalion, based in Puerto Rico.

The Ministry of Defence last night said it was still waiting for the Americans to accept the offer and directed all questions to the Foreign Office. Military staff are, however, finalising plans for the training team, which could include Royal Marines and Army personnel.

Broadsword is unsuitable for naval gunfire support of an amphibious landing, as it has no gun. If the Americans requested it, she might be replaced by a ship with a gun, MoD sources said.