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Fruitful discussions

A CARICOM statement issued Monday said that the leaders met with Obama at the end of the Sixth Summit of the Americas in Colombia over the last weekend.

It said a wide ranging discussion included sharing of ideas on enhancing the role of small business, distance education, job creation, health, information and communication technology, new systems and rules in the US banking system, debt and the role of the G20 in assisting highly indebted middle income countries, were among matters discussed with the US leader.

President Obama told the group which also included the President of the Dominican Republic,Leonel Antonio Fernández Reyna, that the bonds between the two sides were deep and that his country had followed through on the initiatives identified at their previous meeting in Trinidad and Tobago in 2009.

The US President, who was accompanied by his Secretary of State, s Hillary Clinton and the US Trade Representative,. Ron Kirk indicated that he had “personally invested in the region” and assured that there would be follow through on the ideas presented at the meeting.

Meanwhile, the regional leaders have continued to lobby for the G20 to focus on the plight of small vulnerable economies and highly indebted middle income countries.

They made their position known during talks with Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper in Colombia.

“The discussions with Canada centred on economic issues, the ongoing negotiations for a trade and development agreement between the two sides and security cooperation.

“The CARICOM leaders acknowledged the special relationship that Canada and CARICOM had enjoyed for almost a century and emphasised it was a “dynamic and evolving one which was based on mutual respect and shared interests, from which we have both benefitted,” the CARICOM statement said.

It said that they thanked Canada for its assistance in advocating CARICOM’s views in fora such as the G20 and “urge that the advocacy should be pursued with even greater urgency given that the seemingly endless global economic and financial woes continued to wreak havoc on the small, vulnerable economies in the Community.

The statement noted that the regional leaders informed Harper of their efforts to use their collective strengths to combat the challenges and secure the future through measures such as the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) and initiatives such as the Establishment of CARICOM Enterprises. “In so doing, they took the opportunity to express appreciation for the support provided to CARICOM in the implementation of the CSME through the CARICOM Trade and Competitive project, including the assistance for the integration of Haiti into the CSME,” the statement added.

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