US Sec. of State Antony Blinken

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, (CMC) — Foreign ministers of the 15-member Caribbean Community (Caricom) and the US State Department on Wednesday agreed to work together on a number of issues of mutual interest.

A Caricom statement, issued following the the virtual meeting, said the two sides have noted the “inextricable link between the region and the US, and welcomed the roundtable discussion as an initial engagement between the new US Administration and Caricom”.

It said that Belize Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Immigration Minister Eamon Courtenay, who is chair of Caricom Council for Foreign and Community Relations (COFCOR), US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Caricom Secretary General Ambassador Irwin LaRocque addressed the meeting.

“This meeting is significant as it marks the resumption of interaction between Caricom as a region and the US at this high level. I recall that meetings at this level were a regular feature of our relationship,” LaRocque said.

He said that Caricom leaders were looking forward to meeting with President Biden in the near future, adding “I hope that today’s session is the start of a renewal of such encounters”.

LaRocque said that Caricom attaches great value “to the strong and enduring bonds of friendship” with Washington, noting that a “spirit of cooperation has characterised our relationship, and it has been underpinned by collaboration on a range of issues, which include trade and investment, security, health, energy, disaster management and climate change.

“However, there are issues which we need to address as partners, such as blacklisting, correspondent banking, and access to concessional financing based on vulnerability, especially in this very challenging period for our region with COVID-19 and its economic impact, La Soufriere volcano which has impacted St Vincent and the Grenadines and the upcoming hurricane season,” the Caricom secretary general said.