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France considers peace keepers for haiti

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France considers peacekeepers for Haiti
PARIS (AP) The French are studying the possibility of sending peacekeeping troops to help restore calm to strife-torn Haiti, and could dispatch such forces from nearby Caribbean territories, government officials said Tuesday.
"What can France do specifically? First, we want to reflect on what could be done urgently. Can we deploy a peacekeeping force?" Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin said on France-Inter radio. (Related story: Rebellion spreads in Haiti)

"We are in contact with all of our partners in the framework of the United Nations, which has sent a humanitarian mission to Haiti to see what is possible," the minister said.

He did not say that France would send troops, and he noted that deploying peacekeepers "is very difficult" when a nation is in the throes of violence.

The minister said French officials were meeting Tuesday "to see what immediate contribution we can make."

De Villepin also noted that France has overseas territories close by, and expertise in the fields of education, health and humanitarian aid.

"We have some very important assets close to Haiti, with our departments in the Antilles and Guiana," he said. "It is all that that we want to make available when the time comes and if the circumstances permit," he said.

The French Defense Ministry said it has 4,000 military personnel at its two bases in the area, in Martinique and Guadeloupe.

Copyright 2004 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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