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PM backtracks - No troops for Haiti

PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad: Trinidad and Tobago will not contribute troops to the UN peacekeeping mission in Haiti, the prime minister said Wednesday, reversing an earlier promise to send more than 100 soldiers. In a decision with political ramifications for the region, Prime Minister Patrick Manning said "there is no shortage of troops going into Haiti" and the best way for Trinidad to help is through humanitarian and financial aid. The 15-nation Caribbean Community refused to send troops to join a US-led multinational force that arrived in Haiti hours after president Jean-Bertrand Aristide was ousted February 29, then charged the United States forced him out in a coup.

US officials strongly denied the charge, but Caribbean countries demanded an international investigation into Aristide’s departure, a call echoed by the African Union. Manning said Wednesday that Caribbean countries still have "grave doubts" about the departure of Aristide. He did not say, however, if that was why Trinidad was not sending troops. "As of now, Trinidad and Tobago will not send troops into Haiti," Manning told reporters after making a speech. In a ceremony Tuesday, Brazil's Army Gen Augusto Heleno Ribeiro Pereira took control of the fledgling UN force in Haiti. Only a fraction of the projected 8,000 troops and police have arrived to begin taking the place of the 3,600-strong US-led force.

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