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Rice Says US Ready to Work With New Preval Government in Haiti


Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says the United States is ready to work with newly declared Haitian presidential election winner Rene Preval, and wants his government to succeed. In congressional testimony Thursday, she indicated the Bush administration will look for ways to provide additional aid to Haiti.

Officials here say the deal under which Preval was declared the election victor appears to uphold Haitian laws and regulations, and that the United States is ready to work with his government to help build a better future for the impoverished Caribbean state.

The internationally brokered arrangement ended an increasingly bitter dispute over whether Preval, a former Haitian president, had obtained enough votes in the February 7th elections to avoid a run-off.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice responded to the Haitian agreement in testimony to the House International Relations Committee, saying the United States wants Mr. Preval to succeed and will look into ways to provide further assistance: "We're going to work with the Preval government. We want this government to succeed. We have, as I said earlier, we're going to work to see what other resources we may need to support this government. Because it's in our interests that there be a democratic Haiti, and a Haiti that is stable and starting finally to move toward prosperity."

The Secretary's remarks came in response to critical questions by Democratic Congresswoman Barbara Lee of California, who suggested that U.S. officials and non-governmental organizations had worked against former Haitian President Jean Bertrand Aristide, who went into exile two years ago in the face of widespread unrest.

Rice said the United States had not tried to undermine Aristide, while asserting that the former Haitian leader reneged on a list of reform pledges made to the Clinton administration after it helped restore him to power in 1994 following a coup that unseated him three years earlier.

She also suggested that Aristide was a major contributor to the instability that led to his resignation and exile in South Africa in 2004.

She said his departure, in a U.S. provided aircraft, was a good thing for Haiti and that the United States has a good record of helping Haitians out of what she termed the "desperate circumstances" in which they live.

The United States has provided hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to Haiti in recent years including some 30 million dollars to underwrite the recent elections.