U.S. President Joe Biden is calling on Haiti's political leaders to come together for the good of their country.
"The people of Haiti deserve peace and security," Biden said Monday during a White House meeting.
The president told reporters he is closely following developments in the Caribbean nation in the wake of President Jovenel Moïse's assassination Wednesday.
Moïse was shot to death at his home in Port-au-Prince, the Haitian capital, in the early morning of July 7. His wife, Martine Moïse, was seriously wounded in the attack and taken to Miami, Florida, for treatment.
"I dispatched a high-level expert delegation to assess the situation and to determine where the United States can offer our support," the U.S. president said.
A team of U.S. officials from the Justice, Homeland Security and State departments and the National Security Council arrived Sunday in Haiti, the White House announced, to assist with the investigation. The assistance is in response to a request made by Haiti.
"The delegation reviewed the security of critical infrastructure with Haitian government officials and met with the Haitian National Police, who are leading the investigation into the assassination," NSC spokesperson Emily Horne said Monday in a statement emailed to VOA. Horne said the delegation also had met with Haitian government officials.
"The delegation also met with Acting Prime Minister Claude Joseph and Prime Minister-Designate Ariel Henry in a joint meeting, as well as Senate President Joseph Lambert, to encourage open and constructive dialogue to reach a political accord that can enable the country to hold free and fair elections," the statement said.
It continued: "In all their meetings the delegation committed to supporting the Haitian government as it seeks justice in this case and affirmed the United States' support for the people of Haiti in this challenging time. The United States stands with Haiti in becoming a safer, more democratic country."
The FBI told VOA in an emailed statement that it "is currently engaging with the U.S. Embassy in Haiti and our law enforcement partners to determine how we can best support this effort."
The FBI faces a dual mission in Haiti. In addition to assisting Haitian law enforcement with their own investigation, FBI agents must determine any connections between the plot and Haitian Americans living in the United States, and whether any U.S. laws were violated, said David Gomez, a former FBI special agent and national security expert.
The arrests in Haiti of two Haitian Americans, as well as a Haitian-born doctor with ties to the U.S., in connection with the assassination plot gives U.S. prosecutors jurisdiction to investigate the case, Gomez said.
He added that investigators will likely look into a possible violation of the Neutrality Act, which prohibits Americans from getting involved in foreign affairs such as trying to overthrow a foreign government.
"The United States government wants to determine whether there are any other co-conspirators or people of Haitian American background or any background still in the Miami area who may be party to this conspiracy," Gomez said.
The FBI's assistance to Haitian law enforcement is in keeping with a long-standing policy of cooperation with foreign law enforcement agencies. The bureau has hundreds of agents working out of U.S. embassies around the world. Known as legal attaches, these agents serve as liaisons between the FBI and local law enforcement and security agencies.
The initial FBI team in Haiti is likely to be made up of a top headquarters official, as well as agents from the Miami Field Office, which maintains liaison offices for South America and the Caribbean, and the legal attaché in charge of Haiti.
"The initial response is going to be four or five — including the inspector and a team of assistant inspectors — to figure out exactly what they want," Gomez said.
A spokesperson for the Miami Field Office declined to provide details about the investigative team.
Request for troops
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday that Haiti's request for the U.S. to send troops to quell sporadic violence linked to the assassination was still under review.
"As a close neighbor and friend to the people of both Cuba and Haiti, the United States stands ready to continue to provide assistance," Biden said.
In Port-au-Prince, the mastermind behind the assassination plot was identified Sunday by Haitian National Police Chief Leon Charles as Christian Emmanuel Sanon.
Charles told reporters that Sanon, a 63-year-old Haitian-born doctor with ties to the U.S., arrived in Haiti on a private plane in early June, along with some of the Colombian gunmen arrested in connection with last week's assassination. Sanon is one of three Haitians with U.S. ties currently in police custody.
The police chief said information that led to the arrest was garnered during interviews with Colombian suspects, who spoke to investigators through an interpreter.
Police seized weapons, munitions, a Dominican Republic vehicle registration, two vehicles and documents addressed to various sectors of the population, Charles told reporters.
"The investigation has reached a very advanced stage," Charles said. "We have identified 26 Colombians who were part of the commando force that attacked the president's home."
Charles said police have arrested 18 Colombians and three Haitians in connection with the attack, and that at least five other people were believed to be at large.
Jacquelin Belizaire, Steve Herman and Masood Farivar contributed to this report.