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US, French Troops Start Peacekeeping Mission in Haiti - 2004-03-02

U.S. and French troops have begun limited patrols in Haiti, securing diplomatic facilities and other important locations in Port-au-Prince. Rebels who moved into the capital on Monday say they are not seeking a political role in Haiti but showed no sign of disarming.

About 200 U.S. Marines and 150 French troops will be joined in coming days by several thousand more troops from the U.S., France, Canada and other countries in the region. The U.N. has authorized a peacekeeping force for Haiti, following the departure of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

Widespread violence and looting have largely subsided in the capital.

Rebels who entered the capital on Monday are not disarming as they had pledged to do if Mr. Aristide stepped down. Rebel commander Guy Philippe says his forces are not seeking a political role but many like Paul Arcelin, a mid-level commander, say they want to see Haiti's Army reconstituted. "Definitely, this country needs an Army," he said.

A spokesman for the U.S. Marines says U.S. forces will not allow the rebels to enter certain locations such as the National Palace now under the peacekeepers control.