France to US "this is about helping Haiti, not about occupying Haiti"

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Brussels, Jan 19(ANI): A French Minister has called for a United Nations investigation into the dominant US role in Haiti, saying that international aid efforts were about helping the quake-stricken country, not "occupying" it.

The complaint came from French Co-operation Minister Alain Joyandet after the US forces turned back a French aid plane carrying a field hospital from the damaged, congested airport in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince last week.

"This is about helping Haiti, not about occupying Haiti," The Express quoted Joyandet, as saying.

In another weekend incident, 250 Americans were flown to New Jersey's McGuire Air Force Base on three military planes from Haiti, US forces had initially blocked French and Canadian nationals from boarding the planes, but the cordon was lifted after protests from French and Canadian officials.

The US military controls the Port-au-Prince airport, where only one runway is functioning and has been effectively running aid operations.

Playing down the controversy US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said that the US Government had no intention of taking power from Haitian officials.

"We are working to back them up, but not to supplant them," Clinton said.

Around three million Haitians - a third of the country's population - have been affected by last Tuesday's earthquake and two million require food assistance.

The death toll in the country is now estimated at up to 200,000 lives. (ANI)

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