Rice, who is a member of cabinet of the US government, visited Gonsalves at his office in the Permanent Mission of St Vincent and the Grenadines to the United Nations on Tuesday. It marked the first time that a cabinet-level official of the US government has visited the Vincentian Mission.
Recognising that Rice is currently serving as president of the United Nations Security Council at a particularly busy period in the Council’s agenda, Gonsalves stressed his appreciation that Rice had taken a personal interest in the matter, and had taken the time to visit him at his office.
The half-hour conversation took place in a friendly and positive atmosphere, befitting the longstanding history of excellent relations between the United States of America and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. The two ambassadors covered all of the issues surrounding the 28 March incident. They discussed the facts of the incident, as well as the larger issues related to the interactions between sovereign countries and their diplomatic representatives.
Rice informed Gonsalves that the New York Police Department would undertake a thorough internal examination of what took place on 28 March, 2012. The Vincentian envoy has previously detailed his assault, arrest and detention by the NYPD in the lobby of his workplace.
Under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and the relevant resolutions and agreements governing the interactions between the United Nations and the United States of America, diplomatic agents have immunity from arrest or detention in the exercise of their functions.
Gonsalves thanked Rice for her personal concern, empathy, and sensitivity to all of the relevant issues at play in this incident. He also updated Rice on developments that took place since the 28 March incident. Rice reiterated the seriousness with which the US government views its obligations to ensure that the dignity and safety of United Nations’ diplomats is respected. Rice also indicated that she intended to discuss the incident with both the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the 33-member Group of Latin American and Caribbean countries (GRULAC), which sent formal letters of protest to the United States Mission in solidarity with Gonsalves.
Both ambassadors agreed to keep in touch to follow up on the matter.
The very helpful and fruitful discussion between Rice and Gonsalves was said to be indicative of both the seriousness with which the US government is treating the incident at the highest levels, and the successes of the Vincentian government’s sustained and principled diplomatic activity in defence of their sovereignty and international law.
The government of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines said it welcomes the visit by Rice and her sensitivity in this matter to be useful first steps towards ultimate resolution of this multifaceted issue.