HOUSTON, Sept. 28 -- Former U.S. President George Bush said Wednesday he has lost confidence in Haiti's exiled President Jean- Bertrand Aristide even though he used to want to see Aristide restored to power. During an appearance before business and civic leaders in Houston, Bush said he now believes the United States should separate its support for democracy from its support for Aristide.
Saying he did not want to be critical of U.S. President Bill Clinton, Bush repeated his earlier statements that he was opposed to putting a single U.S. soldier in Haiti. 'I don't see it in our vital national interest. I've lost confidence in Aristide. I was the one who started the policy of putting restoration of democracy into Haiti with the restoration and return of this duely elected man. 'I thought, at the time that he was overthrown, that the way to demonstrate U.S. support for democracy in our hemisphere was to see the man restored, but after two years of basking and of the ingratitude that he's shown to President Clinton and to others, I felt...that we should separate our support for democracy from our support for Aristide.' Bush repeated his earlier call to rally around the troops now that U. S. soldiers are in Haiti although he said he was worried about getting the troops out. 'We occupied Haiti for 19 years, and in the process we've ruined our reputation in South America. We're still living down this gunboat diplomacy image that the United States has. So I'm afraid that we're going to get in trouble there. But, I don't want to be hypercritical of it because I also said that if one solder goes ashore that we ought to rally behind the troops,' he said.