Caribbean Nations Call for U.N. Force in Haiti

With Haiti (search) in upheaval, Caribbean nations urged the U.N. Security Council Thursday to immediately authorize a multinational force to end the violence and restore law and order.

But the council -- including key members France and the United States, which have taken a lead in trying to end the Haitian crisis -- said it wants a political settlement before deploying an international force.

Nonetheless, Jamaica's (search) Foreign Minister K.D. Knight, who made the Caribbean appeal for immediate deployment of an international force, told The Associated Press he was "quite encouraged that there's a recognition of the need for such a force."

The council offered at the end of an open meeting where 32 countries and groups spoke to urgently consider options for international engagement in Haiti, including "an international force in support of a political settlement."

"I think it's clear that the council wants a political solution," France's U.N. Ambassador Jean-Marc de La Sabliere said. "The council is prepared to authorize a force which will back a political solution. I think this is the main message from the council."

The council statement reiterated its support for efforts by the 15-nation Caribbean Community, known as CARICOM, and the Organization of American States (search) to achieve a political settlement.

Their plan calls for Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to remain president with diminished powers and share the government with his political rivals. It was accepted by Aristide but has been rejected by his political opponents.

Arguing against waiting for a political solution, Knight told the council that rebel forces that have now created "anarchy" in much of the country are likely to reach the capital Port-au-Prince, and immediate action is needed.

"The situation is one of utmost urgency and the need for decisive action is paramount," said Knight, whose country heads CARICOM.

He said the Security Council needed to "authorize the urgent deployment of a multinational force to assist in the restoration of law and order, to facilitate a return to stability, and to create an environment in which the continuing efforts to find a solution to the political crisis can be pursued."

Knight said some CARICOM members "have already indicated a willingness to contribute to the force." He didn't identify them.

But Security Council members did not change the statement they drafted during closed consultations Thursday morning to respond to Knight's appeal.

U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte, who spoke after Knight, said that "if a sustainable political agreement in Haiti is reached, the United States would support efforts to deploy an international force to support implementation."