Thursday, January 21, 2010

Haiti Accepts Dominican Republic Offer to Send 150 Troops

By Edith M. Lederer, Associated Press Writer

UNITED NATIONS — The Dominican Republic is sending 150 troops to help secure a critical land route in Haiti used to deliver supplies to tens of thousands of earthquake survivors, the United Nations announced Thursday.

Haiti's neighbor on the Caribbean island of Hispaniola offered to station the troops along the main road leading from the country's earthquake-battered capital to the Dominican border, U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky said.

"Haiti accepted," he said.

Haitian President Rene Preval turned down an initial offer to send an 800-strong battalion that would beef up the U.N. force in Haiti, well-informed Western diplomats said Wednesday, speaking on condition of anonymity in the absence of a public announcement.

U.N. peacekeeping chief Alain Le Roy had announced that offer Sunday.

The 150-member contingent will work alongside the U.N. mission's Peruvian troops, already stationed at the border, and will serve under the mission commander, Nesirsky said.

Asked whether Preval had changed his mind, Nesirsky replied, "You'll have to ask him. ... All I know is that an offer was made and an offer was accepted."

Earlier Thursday, the secretary of the Dominican Armed Forces, Lt. Gen. Rafael Pena Antonio, told reporters that Haiti had rejected an offer to send troops.

The Haitian ambassador to the Dominican Republic, Fritz Cineas, said Thursday that all peaceful international forces have been allowed into his country to help with earthquake relief.

"Haiti is a free nation, but in this situation we have to be conscious of our weakness and we are receiving with joy the pacific contributions of fellow nations," he said.

An estimated 100,000 to 200,000 people died in the magnitude-7.0 earthquake that shook Haiti on Jan. 12.

Haiti and the Dominican Republic have long been distrustful of each other, in part due to historical events including military invasions of the Dominican Republic by Haiti in the 1800s and the massacre of 10,000 Haitians by Dominicans in the 1930s.


Associated Press Writers Ramon Almanzar and Dionisio Soldevila in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic; and Danica Coto and David McFadden in San Juan, Puerto Rico, contributed to this report.

The Associated Press

Source: SignOnSanDiego

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