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a679: Article: U.S., Caribbean Nations Disagree on Haiti, Banking(fwd)

From: Dan Craig <dgcraig@att.net>

U.S., Caribbean Nations Disagree on Haiti, Banking
February 7, 2002
Filed at 2:45 p.m. ET

NASSAU (Reuters) - Amid heated exchanges, the United States
and its Caribbean neighbors disagreed on Thursday on aid
for Haiti and whether four Caribbean nations should stay on
a money laundering black list.

At a meeting between Secretary of State Colin Powell and
Caribbean foreign ministers in the Bahamian capital Nassau,
the Caribbeans argued it was time for the United States to
let international institutions make loans to Haiti.

But Powell stuck to the U.S. position that until Haitian
President Jean-Bertrand Aristide solved a political crisis,
it might be unwise to resume assistance to his government.

"We spoke our minds very clearly," said Guyanan Foreign
Minister Samuel Insanally, the chairman of the Caribbean
Community (CARICOM) committee of foreign ministers.

"Sometimes a scream is better than a thesis so I ask you
(Powell) to forgive us if we screamed a lot this morning,"
he told a joint news conference with Powell.

Powell responded to Insanally's comments by saying: "We
did not scream. We had solid civilized discussions."

Nearly $500 million of international aid has been withheld
from Haiti because critics abroad and at home say the way
the results of the 2000 elections were calculated gave
Aristide's Lavalas party more Senate seats than it was due.

A senior U.S. official said the dispute was mainly about
some $200 million in funds from the Inter-American
Development Bank and that even if the United States voted
to release the money, the bank has problems with Haitian

Insanally defended Aristide, saying: "The actions taken by
President Aristide are in the right direction and the
release of the funds would assist in rebuilding democracy
in Haiti. Not doing this could lead to a deterioration in
the situation.'"

"U.S. assistance is needed particularly for the
independent international financial institutions if we are
to see some progress," the Guyanan foreign minister added.

Powell countered that until the political crisis in Haiti
was resolved, the United States would have reservations
about "releasing our holds" or providing advice to
international financial institutions to provide assistance.

In a radio interview earlier, Powell said the Haitian
government had not done enough on the domestic political
front and that Aristide had to be held accountable.

"We believe we have to hold President Aristide and the
Haitian government to fairly high standards of performance
before we can simply allow the flow of funds into the

Another contentious issue is whether four Caribbean nations
-- Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts and Nevis and St. Vincent
-- should stay on a money laundering black list.

Since the Sept. 11 attacks, the United States has tried to
persuade all the Caribbean nations to bring their banking
regulations up to international standards designed to
combat money laundering and the financing of terrorism.

Insanally urged the United States not to target Caribbean
countries on the money laundering issue.

"The Caribbean countries are doing their utmost to satisfy
these (money laundering) requirements, and we think it
would be unfair to discriminate against them and to follow
a pattern of naming and shaming which tarnishes the image
of these countries," the Guyanan foreign minister added.

Copyright 2002 The New York Times Company