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Annan Begins Visit to Haiti, Dominican Republic


U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan arrived in Haiti Thursday to begin his official visit with political leaders to discuss ways to improve security.

The trip had been delayed by a day because the commercial aircraft he planned to use experienced technical difficulties.

Mr. Annan is expected to meet with President Rene Preval, top Haitian officials and with members of the U.N. Stabilization Mission in Haiti about concerns over renewed violence.

The number of kidnappings by armed groups has started to surge in Haiti after a period of calm following the election of Mr. Preval. The U.N. says trafficking in illegal drugs and weapons remains a major problem.

In a report to the Security Council earlier this week, Mr. Annan called for a stronger U.N. police force in Haiti. He said it should be strengthened with experts in counter-kidnapping and anti-gang operations to better support the Haitian National Police.

Following his visit to Haiti, Mr. Annan will travel to the Dominican Republic. He is scheduled to meet there with President Leonel Fernandez and members of the nation's Congress and Supreme Court.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.

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