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Rice in Bahamas for Talks With CARICOM Officials


U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is in The Bahamas for talks with Caribbean Community foreign ministers regarding Haiti and other regional issues.

Secretary Rice arrived in Nassau Tuesday for the talks, which will cover U.S. engagement in the Caribbean, deepening cooperation with countries in the region, as well as democracy, security and improving disaster preparation.

Ties between the group known as CARICOM and the United States have been strained over the circumstances surrounding the February 2004 ouster of then-Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. The former Haitian leader fled into exile amid an armed revolt and pressure from Western governments.

CARICOM suspended Haiti's membership following Mr. Aristide's ouster, but agreed to reinstate the country after its new government is installed and President-elect Rene Preval takes office, probably in early May.

Earlier, the assistant U.S. secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs, Thomas Shannon, said the U.S. and Caribbean Community needed to "close the breach" over Haiti and work to get help for that nation.

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