State Department spokesman Hodding Carter Yesterday described as "grossly erroneous" and "baloney" a Washington Post article that Carter said "has to do with a supposed joint military naval task force in the Caribbean."
He said the United States had been discussing for some time with Britain and several Caribbean nations about forming "a regional coast guard." But, he added, the matter had been "in the discussion and planning stage long before the Soviet troops (in Cuba) issue arose, and it is not related to it." b
Asked why he said the article was "baloney," Carter replied, "Because the impression left by it was that we are considering a large task force in the Caribbean . . ."
The article, however, contained no reference to "a joint military task force" -- terms used by Carter. The article appeared Saturday.
Instead, the article referred to a "multinational Caribbean seagoing patrol force," noted that it would be limited to Coast Guard-type functions and quoted U.S. officials as stressing that it could hardly be called "a Caribbean navy." Initially, the article said, the proposal would involve at most three countries: Barbados, St. Vincent and possible St. Lucia.
The article also noted that the idea stems from a British study about coast guard needs of these islands. But it also said the idea is now being considered for further action within the framework of the inter-agency group studying possible responses to Cuban and Soviet military activities in the Caribbean.
The Post article was based on information provided by several policymaking officials of the State and Depfense departments, some of whom a are involved in the inter-agency group's deliberations.