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SLUG: 2-313509 France / Haiti (L O)
TITLE=FRANCE / HAITI (L O)
INTRO: France's foreign minister today (Wednesday) said Haiti's embattled president, Jean Bertrand Aristide, was responsible for much of the turmoil in his country, and suggested he should resign. From Paris, Lisa Bryant has more on France's reaction to the trouble in Haiti.
TEXT: In a statement issued late Wednesday, French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin said President Aristide carried, in his words, "a heavy responsibility for the current situation" of chaos and violence now roiling Haiti. Mr. Aristide, the foreign minister said, should "draw the conclusions within the respect of the law."
A French foreign ministry spokesman contacted by V-O-A said those words could be interpreted as suggesting Mr. Aristide should step down from power.
Paris has been among the foreign governments trying to defuse the growing crisis in Haiti, where a motley group of rebels control half the country. Mr. de Villepin also called Wednesday for an international force to be immediately dispatched to Haiti, to restore order on an island which France colonized in the late 17th century to the early 19th.
The French government hopes to hold a series of talks separately with representatives of the Haitian government and rebel forces between now and late Friday, in Paris. But for the moment there is no precise time or date for the hoped-for meetings.
The latest developments come as turmoil continued to roil Haiti, with reports of foreigners trying to flee the country amid violence and looting.
Haiti's opposition coalition has already rejected an international peace plan, which President Aristide accepted last Saturday. The plan would have allowed Mr. Aristide to remain as president, while sharing the government with his political rivals. (SIGNED)
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