Caribbean welcomes re-engagement of the US

CARICOM Secretariat, Guyana –  The Caribbean welcomed what Antiguan Prime Minister Honourable Baldwin Spencer termed the “re-engagement” of the United States following “an extensive, productive and effective exchange” with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
For her part Secretary of State Clinton assured the Caribbean that “we are back and committed” to find “solutions to common problems” as she welcomed the “vigorous dialogue” that took place during the almost two hour Informal Meeting between the two sides in Barbados on Thursday. Foreign Ministers of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Dominican Republic met with Secretary of State Clinton in a discussion which host Foreign Minister Honourable Maxine McLean said “augurs well for relations” between the two sides.
Prime Minister Spencer said the Community was pleased that the US administration was keeping to the promise of US President Barack Obama at the 2009 Fifth Summit of the Americas held in Trinidad and Tobago that his country would effectively engage the Caribbean. He said that the futures of both sides were intertwined and there was a need to develop partnerships. He said a partnership with the US was important to the Region in seeking assistance to press its case for special treatment for small, vulnerable states like those in the Caribbbean.
Both the Prime Minister and Secretary Clinton were speaking at a press briefing at the end of the meeting at which the two sides signed the Commitment of Bridgetown: Partnership for Prosperity and Security. The Commitment covered a range of areas including Co-operation and Assistance to Haiti, Security, Energy and Climate Change, Health, Trade and the Impact of the Global Financial and Economic Crisis.
Secretary Clinton supported a call by the Foreign Minister of St Kitts and Nevis, Honourable Sam Condor for a High Level Conference on Interpersonal Violence as she outlined the assistance from the US of $45 million (US) for the Caribbean to among other things help train security forces to battle crime and violence. She recognised that such assistance must go “hand in hand with social development”.
The Secretary of State also announced $162 million (US) funding to fight HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean and $8 million (US) for climate change and energy programmes.
Both sides expressed anxiety over the possibility of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico affecting the Caribbean with Secretary Clinton expressing her appreciation of the scientific assessment of the risk to the Region which was presented to the meeting by The Bahamas.

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