"Peace Without Justice: A Journey to the Wounded Heart of Africa" [Magazine, Jan. 9] was a moving depiction of the horrors endured by the civilians of Sierra Leone during a brutal civil war and of the difficult choices facing the government of Sierra Leone and other nations in bringing that war to an end.

However, it was inaccurate to say that Washington "brokered a deal that gives the perpetrators amnesty and a piece of the action." The United States neither "brokered" the Lome Peace Agreement nor "leaned" on President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah to open talks with the insurgents. The agreement, which brought an end to the killings and atrocities in Sierra Leone, was the result of the efforts of its democratically elected government, rebel leaders, representatives of Sierra Leone's civil society and regional states.

While the United States, at the invitation of the parties, did help facilitate the peace negotiations and the participation of Sierra Leonean civil society leaders, the peace agreement and the domestic amnesty for combatants were negotiated directly between President Kabbah's government and the rebel leadership under the auspices of the Economic Community of West African States. It was the Sierra Leonean government's decision to include four of the rebel leaders in the government in order to defuse the conflict and promote stability and reconciliation.

Our commitment to helping Sierra Leone's people has been longstanding and substantial. The United States has been the largest donor of humanitarian assistance to Sierra Leone, contributing more than $300 million since 1991. The vast majority of the State Department's allocated budget for non-U.N. peacekeeping in Africa has gone to Sierra Leone during the past three years. The parties to the peace negotiations took the measures they thought necessary to end a horrible chapter in their country's history.

The United States supports the peace process, including the important work that must be undertaken by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to bring an end to impunity. We now owe it to the people of Sierra Leone to help make this fragile peace work.

SUSAN E. RICE

Assistant Secretary of State

For African Affairs

Department of State

Washington