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Marines Ordered to Haiti

By Gene Harper
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 29, 2004 – President Bush ordered U.S. Marines to Haiti today after the resignation and departure of Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

"I have done so in working with the international community. This government believes it essential that Haiti have a hopeful future," said the commander in chief from the White House. "This is the beginning of a new chapter in the country's history."

Aristide resigned and departed Port au-Prince earlier in the day. "At President Aristide's request, the United States facilitated his safe departure from Haiti," according to a statement by Richard Boucher, State Department spokesman.

"The decision by President Aristide to resign resolves the political impasse that is the root of the violent unrest in Haiti in recent weeks," he said. He added "several other countries are prepared to move quickly to join this mission."

Boucher said that the United States would consult with its partners in the Caribbean Community Plan of Action, the Organization of American States, Canada and France to seek a U.N. Security Council resolution authorizing international support of a peaceful and constitutional transition in Haiti.

"I would urge the people of Haiti to reject violence, to give this break from the past a chance to work," Bush concluded in his statement. "And the United States is prepared to help."

DoD had not confirmed news reports that the Marines had departed. Those reports indicated that as few as several hundred up to 2,000 Marines would deploy from a U.S. installation.

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