01.07.2005: FRENCH SHARE CONCERNS ON POSSIBLE ARISTIDE RETURN TO HAITI

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S E C R E T PARIS 004660

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/01/2015 TAGS: PREL, FR, HA, SF

SUBJECT: FRENCH SHARE CONCERNS ON POSSIBLE ARISTIDE RETURN TO HAITI

REF: STATE 121144

Classified By: Political Minister-Counselor Josiah Rosenblatt, reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).

1. (C) Poloff and Embassy Africa Watcher delivered reftel demarche July 1 to both MFA DAS-equivalent for Central America and the Caribbean Gilles Bienvenu and MFA AF PDAS-equivalent Elisabeth Barbier. Bienvenu stated that the GOF shared our analysis of the implications of an Aristide return to Haiti, terming the likely repercussions "catastrophic." Bienvenu actively sought our thoughts on next steps to prevent Aristide from returning. Initially expressing caution when asked about France demarching the SARG, Bienvenu noted that Aristide was not a prisoner in South Africa and that such an action could "create difficulties." However, Bienvenu later offered to express our shared concerns in Pretoria, perhaps under the pretext that as a country desiring to secure a seat on the UN Security Council, South Africa could not afford to be involved in any way with the destabilization of another country. Barbier, speaking on behalf of the AF bureau, however, did not foresee any problems at all in delivering a demarche in Pretoria.

2. (S) Bienvenu speculated on exactly how Aristide might return, seeing a possible opportunity to hinder him in the logistics of reaching Haiti. If Aristide traveled commercially, Bienvenu reasoned, he would likely need to transit certain countries in order to reach Haiti. Bienvenu suggested a demarche to CARICOM countries by the U.S. and EU to warn them against facilitating any travel or other plans Aristide might have. He specifically recommended speaking to the Dominican Republic, which could be directly implicated in a return attempt. Both Bienvenu and Barbier confided that South African mercenaries could be heading towards Haiti, with Bienvenu revealing the GOF had documented evidence that 10 South African citizens had come to Paris and requested Dominican visas between February and the present.

3. (C) Comment: France seems to share our analysis and concerns regarding any attempt by Aristide to return to Haiti. They appear eager to prevent such an occurrence and could be valuable, both bilaterally and within the EU, in convincing other countries to avoid involvement in any plans by Aristide. End Comment. STAPLETON



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