Canada's Trudeau says clear action plan needed to address Haiti crisis

FILE PHOTO - Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds a press conference in Surrey, British Columbia

By Rod Nickel

WINNIPEG (Reuters) - Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Friday said a clear plan of action was needed before any mission to help Haiti goes forward, a day after his government sent a delegation to assess the humanitarian and security crisis in the Caribbean nation.

"I'm so pleased that there is such an interest by the Caribbean countries to be part of any solution," Trudeau told reporters in Winnipeg. "But, of course, before we establish any sort of mission, we need to see a clear plan of action."

When asked, neither Trudeau nor his defense minister, who was also at the news conference, responded as to whether Canada would be willing to deploy its armed forces as security in a Haiti mission.

"We are making sure that we have all information before we take a decision," said Defense Minister Anita Anand, seemingly leaving the door open to the possibility.

Haiti's government is pleading for military assistance from abroad to confront gangs who have blocked the entrance to a fuel terminal in the capital Port-au-Prince. The blockade has led to shortages of gasoline and diesel and halted most transport, in turn creating shortages of basic goods, including clean water.

On Thursday, during an official visit from U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken to Ottawa, Canada said it had sent officials to Haiti to assess the situation, saying it will not sit idly by while gangs threaten women and children there.

Also on Thursday, the United States said it was confident of securing a U.N. Security Council resolution and finding nations to lead a task force in early November to address the crisis in Haiti, the poorest nation in the Americas.

So far, no country has offered to lead the force, though the Bahamas has said it could send troops or police if asked to do so.

Trudeau on Friday said the key to any mission would be the support "from the Haitian people and the Haitian government and opposition parties, and a consensus about how we can make sure that as we help the Haitian people, we are ensuring a stronger future for them."

(Reporting by Steve Scherer in Ottawa and Rod Nickel in Winnipeg; writing by Steve Scherer; editing by Jonathan Oatis and Paul Simao)