CARICOM heads of government are in Jamaica to meet with United States President Barack Obama today, the third such occasion that Caribbean leaders are meeting with the president during his two terms in office.
In a caucus of the CARICOM heads of government on Wednesday (8th April), the Caribbean leaders finalized their collective approach for the meeting with the US president, an occasion that Prime Minister Harris believes could lead to improved relations between the Caribbean region and its northern neighbour, the United States of America.
“I believe that if we could get that mechanism for recalibrating the relationship going forward, the CARICOM-US relations would be firmer, stronger and better for all,” said Prime Minister Harris, who also believes that the process of engagement could further the cause of Caribbean integration.
It is that strengthening of relations with the United States, coupled with the development agenda of countries in the Caribbean, that current chairman of CARICOM Prime Minister Perry Christie aspires for a productive and beneficial meeting for the people of the region.
“When young people arrive at a point where they have a sense of hopelessness, you cannot control the consequences that flow from that. In the region, we have to give our people the hope, that there is something meaningful for them,” Prime Minister Christie said following the caucus.
And in the context of economic challenges, faced by Caribbean countries, stemming from the influences of the global financial crisis, the interest of Dominica’s Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit is focused on a working relationship with the United States that facilitates economic growth and development in CARICOM member states.
“President Obama is meeting the Caribbean at a very important period. My hope is that we will hear from the president of the United States as to how he sees the United States working with the Caribbean towards addressing a number of inherent challenges that every member state of CARICOM is going through at present,” said Prime Minister Skerrit in one Dominica media source.
The talks with the US president would be preceded by an opening ceremony to take place at the Mona Campus of the University of the West Indies. Topping the agenda are issues of security and terrorism, energy and economic development.
Accompanying Prime Minister Harris are Minister of Foreign Affairs and Aviation Mark Brantley, Minister of Public Infrastructure and Urban Development Ian Liburd, St. Kitts and Nevis’ High Commissioner to Jamaica Cedric Harper and Director of Foreign Affairs Kaye Bass.