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US to push for multinational Haiti intervention force in Canada talks

France 24 logo France 24 27/10/2022 NEWS WIRES

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken heads Thursday to Canada for talks expected to focus on Haiti, with an American official voicing hope for progress on setting up an intervention force to address the impoverished Caribbean nation's spiralling security and health crises.


Haiti's government and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres have both appealed for international intervention as armed gangs take over vast stretches of the country and a cholera outbreak worsens.

President Joe Biden's administration has made clear it has no desire to send US troops in harm's way but a top official rejected pessimism that no country would step forward amid discussions at the UN Security Council.

"I am very optimistic that the international community and the Security Council will come together around another resolution that would create a multinational force for Haiti," said Brian Nichols, the assistant secretary of state for the Western Hemisphere.

"I strongly disagree with the idea that a resolution authorizing a multinational force is in peril," he told reporters.

The Security Council last week unanimously approved a resolution that targeted gang leaders but it did not address a multinational force.

Nichols said that a "number of countries" have the capacity to lead a mission but that there has been no decision.

"Among those countries is Canada, but it's not the only country that can do that," he said.

"I've talked to dozens of partner nations around the world about the situation in Haiti and there is strong support for a multinational force," he said.

"The desire to contribute in whatever ways nations feel that they can be helpful, I think, is very widespread in our hemisphere and beyond."

US prioritizes police 

Blinken said ahead of his trip that solving Haiti's problems would be "difficult, if not impossible" without restoring security.

He reiterated the US focus on building the Haitian National Police, pointing to the delivery on October 15 by the US and Canadian militaries of equipment including armored vehicles.

"We need to break the nexus -- a very noxious nexus -- between the gangs and certain political elites who are funding them, directing them and using them to advance their own interests instead of the interests of the country," Blinken told an event at Bloomberg News.

"If we are able to help break that up as well as reinforce the Haitian National Police, then I think the government can get a grip on security," he said.

Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly said she would discuss Haiti with Blinken and that any actions need to "take into consideration what Haitians themselves think."

"The goal is, at the end of the day, to find ways to help Haiti in the most effective way," she told reporters in Ottawa.

She said that Canada would work to impose sanctions on gang leaders in line with last week's Security Council resolution that notably froze for one year all economic resources linked to Jimmy Cherizier, nicknamed "Barbecue," whose armed groups have blockaded Haiti's main oil terminal.

Joly said she would also coordinate with Blinken on the Ukraine war, Iran and China, ahead of a series of major Asian summits.

Blinken has spoken frequently to Joly but his two-day trip is his first to Canada since becoming the top US diplomat in January 2021 with the start of the Biden administration.

In Ottawa, he will meet with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and tour a community center for Ukrainian refugees.

He will spend Friday in Montreal, Joly's hometown, where he will visit a lithium recycling factory in a bid to highlight cooperation on supply chains.



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