Jeremy Kinsman, of the Canadian Embassy here, was identified incorrectly yesterday. He is a minister at the embassy. In addition, comments by Kinsman referring to the evacuation of foreigners from the island of Grenada applied only to Canadian citizens there.
At least two countries with significant numbers of citizens on Grenada--Canada and Great Britain--had arranged for the air evacuation of their nationals prior to yesterday's invasion of the island, but the plans were intentionally blocked without their knowledge by the governments of the invasion force, according to airline officials and diplomats.
According to David Jardine, general manager for marketing of LIAT airlines, the only commercial carrier regularly serving Grenada, Canadian officials here had made arrangements last weekend for a LIAT charter to fly from here to Grenada on Monday morning, when it was understood that the Grenadans had agreed to open the airport.
A Canadian diplomat said today that his government had received "permission from the Grenadan government which was satisfactory to us" that the 29 Canadians who wanted to leave on the flight could do so. British officials also requested a flight for their nationals.
But LIAT canceled the flight after being "instructed on Sunday night by the Caribbean heads of government that they had taken a decision to suspend all air and sea links into Grenada," Jardine said in an interview.
On Monday, he said, Canadian officials called repeatedly to request that the flight be operated.
Later that day, LIAT was informed by the Caribbean states that both flights could go ahead on Tuesday.
This approval came despite the fact that, according to the Reagan administration and the Caribbean governments, the decision to invade the island yesterday morning already had been made over the weekend.
It is understood that four American diplomats who met with the Grenadan government there over the weekend, including one who did not leave the island until 2:30 Monday afternoon, found some American medical students on the island frightened and were not optimistic that an effective evacuation could be performed.
In the days since the yesterday invasion, Canada has been sharply critical of the invasion, and the action has provoked strong political controversy in London.
In the United States, questions are being raised on Capitol Hill about the accuracy of administration statements that the invasion was necessary because U.S. citizens and other foreigners were in imminent danger.
Reached by telephone in Washington, Jeremy Kinsman, first secretary of the Canadian Embassy there, disputed that assertion, saying that "the notion that you had to invade Grenada because you could not evacuate is not correct."
Kinsman said that his government now has sent its own military transport to Barbados to evacuate Canadians from Grenada, but that this operation was being blocked by the U.S. military command. Since the invasion, he said, Canada has been told that "evacuation was secondary to military objectives."
Not only are "our people still on the bloody island," he said, but the U.S. military now has taken over an open phone line to them in Grenada that Canada had maintained throughout events of the past week up until the invasion itself.
"We have been assured by U.S. authorities that they're in no danger," he said. "Since we have no reason to believe there would be reason to harm any Canadians, particularly since we regret this invasion, I guess we have to conclude that is right." He said two Canadian consular officials had been allowed to travel to Grenada by U.S. military transport.
But, he said, the information received from the United States throughout the operation "has been confused, contradictory and . . . frustrating for a foreign country with nationals on the island. The only satisfactory information which we take to be true," he said, "is that the Canadian nationals are safe. We want to take our people out. Soon. We want that to be tomorrow morning."
In addition to LIAT, arrangements apparently were being made with other carriers to evacuate foreigners prior to the invasion including, according to informed sources here, American citizens. One source said that Cunard Lines had been contacted about the use of its cruise ship, the Cunard Countess, which was scheduled to make a regular stop in Grenada yesterday, but that no approval for the proposed plan had been received from the State Department.
Cunard's agent in Barbados, Robert Parker, declined to discuss whether Cunard had been approached to evacuate Americans. "I cannot say anything about that," he said.