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Kerry Criticizes Bush Policy on Haiti - 2004-03-07


President Bush's expected opponent in the U.S. presidential election this year, John Kerry, has criticized Mr. Bush for failing to do more to support Haiti's democratically elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

In an interview published Sunday by The New York Times, Mr. Kerry says that if he had been president he would have sent a special envoy to Haiti to help avoid the crisis that led to Mr. Aristide's ouster last week.

Mr. Kerry, a U.S. senator from Massachusetts, is expected to be the Democratic Party's choice to oppose Mr. Bush in the presidential election this November. He says he would have been prepared to send troops to Haiti "immediately" to support Mr. Aristide. To do otherwise, Senator Kerry said, sends "a terrible message" to other nations in the Americas.

The United States has taken a major role in the multi-national peacekeeping force now in Haiti, which has the unanimous support of the United Nations Security Council.

President Bush's Secretary of State, Colin Powell, said last week that Mr. Aristide "was running a flawed government [and] a flawed presidency," and that the Haitian leader "may have been elected democratically, but was not governing effectively or democratically."

The United States made extensive efforts to find a solution to Haiti's political crisis while Mr. Aristide was still in office, Mr. Powell said, but eventually concluded the only real answer was that President Aristide should "take a hard look at the situation and decide to step down," which he did.

Senator Kerry's comments today in The New York Times were part of an interview seeking the Democratic candidate's views on foreign policy, intelligence and global issues.