Sharpton Plans Haitian Meeting

Democratic presidential candidate Al Sharpton (search) said Tuesday that both Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide (search) and opposition leaders have accepted his offer to travel to Haiti to help broker a peace agreement after a U.S.-backed proposal was rejected.

Sharpton also said that opposition spokesman Paul Denis told him by telephone from Haiti (search) that they would likely refuse the U.S. plan, which does not require Aristide to resign.

"It appears at the end of the day, the answer's going to be no. And if it is, then I'm going to prepare a humanitarian trip because all sides appear to be willing at least to talk," Sharpton said in a telephone interview after a meeting at the Haitian consulate in New York City.

As rebels threatened to attack the capital of Port-au-Prince, last-ditch diplomacy efforts faltered as an opposition coalition turned down the U.S. peace plan.

Sharpton said he would know for certain whether he would travel to Haiti by late Tuesday or early Wednesday. He said he had not heard back from the State Department about his pending trip. It was unlikely the Bush administration would embrace such an offer of private diplomacy.

Sharpton, a minister who has advocated Haitian-American rights in the United States and has met Aristide several times, said he spoke with him by telephone on Tuesday.

"Obviously, I have some disappointments in what he has done," he said of Aristide. "But again, I don't want to prejudge whether that warrants what direct moves he ought to make until I get there."

Sharpton made a similar effort at restoring order in the West African nation of Liberia in July by meeting with both sides in the conflict.

His latest diplomatic attempt comes amid the election season. Sharpton, who has stuck with his long-shot presidential bid partly to keep minority issues on the agenda, expressed disappointment in his Democratic opponents for inadequately addressing Haiti, and in the Bush administration for not doing more to help settle the situation.