The interagency US delegation to Haiti briefed President Joe Biden on Monday morning after they returned from Port-au-Prince, White House press secretary Jen Psaki confirmed Monday.
Biden will continue to receive regular briefings from his national security team on the matter, Psaki said.
A US delegation – including representatives from the Department of Justice, Department of State, and National Security Council – traveled to Haiti Sunday at the Haitian government’s request, days after Haitian President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated.
Moïse was killed during an attack on his private residence in the capital of Port-au-Prince early Wednesday. Haiti’s first lady, Martine Moïse, was also shot in the attack and evacuated to a hospital in Miami for treatment.
The assassination has thrown the Caribbean nation into deeper turmoil, as his death leaves a power vacuum and comes as Haiti has been dealing with a wave of extreme violence, a growing humanitarian crisis and a worsening Covid-19 pandemic.
Psaki said she was “not aware” of anyone from the delegation staying on the ground, and that the group is now working “to get a better understanding of the request for assistance.”
The group received requests for “additional assistance,” Psaki noted but declined to provide specifics.
The growing crisis in Haiti is presenting a new set of decisions for the Biden administration as questions swirl about what exactly led to the Moïse’s assassination. So far, the White House has demonstrated caution in getting directly involved – a reflection of Biden’s wariness at wading into another foreign conflict.
“The delegation reviewed the security of critical infrastructure with Haitian government officials and met with the Haitian National Police, who are leading the investigation into the assassination,” NSC spokesperson Emily Horne said in a statement Monday.
She continued, “The delegation also met with Acting Prime Minister Claude Joseph and Prime Minister-Designate Ariel Henry in a joint meeting, as well as Senate President Joseph Lambert, to encourage open and constructive dialogue to reach a political accord that can enable the country to hold free and fair elections.”
The Haitian government last week requested US troops to help protect infrastructure, ports, airports and energy systems, Haitian Elections Minister Mathias Pierre told CNN. Mathias said the request was for a limited number of around 500 troops and that he anticipated the threat to be “potential mercenaries.”
What was not clear, Psaki said, was “the future of political leadership” for the country in the aftermath of the president’s assassination.
“It was a reminder how vital it is for Haiti’s leaders to come together to chart a united path forward,” she said.
The US will remain “in close touch” with a range of leaders and law enforcement officials, she added.