All Eyes On Today’s US-Caricom Summit LK Hewlett Story Updated: April 8 th 2015 at 1:08 pm
Anticipation among participants is high for the inaugural US-Caricom Summit between US president Barack Obama and Caribbean leaders set for later today (Apr 9) in Jamaica. US foreign policy towards the region will take center stage, with the March 9 White House executive order against Venezuela likely being high on the agenda. Many Caricom Leaders have supported Venezuela’s call for the US to repeal the order which designated the Latin American country an ” unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States”. The Caricom leaders held a special caucus yesterday to discuss an integrated approach for today’s 90-minute meeting with President Obama. St. Kitts-Nevis PM Dr. Timothy Harris led a four-person delegation to Jamaica for the Summit. He sees the Summit as being an ideal platform for improving the US-Caricom rapprochement. “I believe if we can get that mechanism for recalibrating the relationship going forward, then Caricom US relations would be firmer, stronger and better for all,” he said. While Dr. Harris stands in solidarity with the Venezuelan government and people against the US executive order, he said St. Kitts-Nevis is not taking sides in the dispute. Both countries are “very good friends” of the Federation the PM said, and his administration would want to “do everything that we can to ensure the peace, stability, progress and prosperity” of Venezuela and the US. “We have two friends that are in conflict and we say peaceful coexistence. That is a policy stance which can withstand all of history…that is consistent with our own membership in the United Nations, which speaks to peace, non-interference in the face of other countries save in very exceptional circumstances.” Dr. Harris said the Federation’s policy position is consistent with its commitment to the OAS democratic Charter signed in 2011, which provides a multi-lateral mechanism for dealing with issues of human rights and how countries engage each other in those matters. “So we stand on principle in this matter and we want peace. We’ve said that to the USA and we have said that to Venezuela and we’ve said that as a country which is friend to both.” He said if either one or both the US and Venezuela would wish to call on St. Kitts-Nevis to play the role of mediator in resolving the dispute, his administration is willing to provide such assistance.