Expected to declare Haiti 'stable,' 'secure'

U.S., U.N.

January 15, 1995|By New York Times News Service

WASHINGTON -- The United States and United Nations plan to declare, perhaps as early as Tuesday, that Haiti is now a "stable and secure environment" and begin the process of transferring military authority from U.S. to U.N. authority, administration officials say.

The decision to move forward comes despite the killing of a U.S. soldier on Thursday and the doubts of a number of military officers and diplomats who say that Washington is rushing the transfer because of congressional pressure.

"The U.S. is anxious to move to put a U.N. face on this operation, but unless the situation in Haiti is more stable, it will be more difficult for the U.N. to carry out its mandate," said one U.N. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Other senior U.S. and U.N. officials dismiss these qualms and say that the time is ripe for handing off responsibility to a 6,000-member international force, probably in mid-March.

About half of the troops in the new force will be from the United States.

The outgoing commander of U.S. forces in Haiti, Maj. Gen. David C. Meade, said in a telephone interview Friday night that the killing of the U.S. soldier by a former Haitian army officer on Thursday was "a random incident that I don't think changes the overall assessment that things here are going very well."

The killing took place at a checkpoint in Gonaives.

General Meade, who turned over command of U.S. troops in Haiti yesterday to Maj. Gen. George A. Fisher Jr., said, for instance, that random searches by U.S. Army troops of 2,500 cars in the Port-au-Prince area since November had turned up only nine unauthorized weapons.

All but one of those weapons had been pistols, he said.

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