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Foreigners Leaving Haiti as Uprising Continues - 2004-02-20

Foreigners are streaming out of Haiti Friday, as a two-week old uprising against the government continues.

The U.S. State Department warned American citizens on Thursday to leave the Caribbean country as soon as possible. In a travel advisory, it said security continues to deteriorate, as confrontations between pro and anti-government forces continue.

Meanwhile, foreign diplomats are to meet with opposition leaders Friday to lay the groundwork for Saturday talks. Representatives from the United States, Canada, France, and the Caribbean Community will travel to Haiti to present a plan for ending the crisis to President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and the opposition.

The proposal calls for disarming warring factions, installing a neutral prime minister and establishing a broad-based government advisory council to prepare for new parliamentary elections.

The rebels are demanding President Aristide step down, and have vowed to take over the capital unless he does. Mr. Aristide said Thursday he would rather die than leave his post.

As turmoil reigns in many parts of the country, carnival celebrations have begun in the capital, Port-au-Prince.

At least 55 people have died in Haiti's violence since the uprising began in the port city of Gonaives on February 5.

Haiti has been in political turmoil since disputed legislative elections in 2000.