United States Pres­i­dent Barack Obama to Visit Ja­maica

The Star (St. Lucia) - - REGIONAL -

By Alexander Britell

United States Pres­i­dent Barack Obama will be vis­it­ing the Caribbean next month.

In what will be his first visit to the re­gion since 2011, Obama will be mak­ing an of­fi­cial visit to Ja­maica on April 9.

The visit was an­nounced by Ja­maica Prime Min­is­ter Por­tia Simp­son Miller on Tues­day.

Ac­cord­ing to Ja­maica’s Prime Min­is­ter, the visit will in­clude “bi­lat­eral dis­cus­sions on a range of is­sues of mu­tual in­ter­est.”

The two sides will be joined by a meet­ing of heads of gov­ern­ment of the Caribbean Com­mu­nity “for dis­cus­sions on is­sues on the CARICOM-USA agenda, in­clud­ing se­cu­rity and trade,” Simp­son Miller’s of­fice said.

“The Gov­ern­ment of Ja­maica is de­lighted that Pres­i­dent Obama will be vis­it­ing Ja­maica at this time,” Simp­son Miller said. “It will mark the sec­ond time since our In­de­pen­dence that a sit­ting US Pres­i­dent will be vis­it­ing Ja­maica. We view the Pres­i­dent’s up­com­ing visit as an af­fir­ma­tion of the strong ties of friend­ship and co­op­er­a­tion that have united our two peo­ples for cen­turies.”

Obama has vis­ited the re­gion twice dur­ing his ad­min­is­tra­tion; in 2011 in Puerto Rico and in 2009 at the Sum­mit of the Amer­i­cas in Port of Spain, Trinidad.

“This en­hances Ja­maica’s rep­u­ta­tion and pres­tige, for the Pres­i­dent of the United States to visit while he is still in of­fice,” said David Rowe, a Ja­maican at­tor­ney and po­lit­i­cal com­men­ta­tor. “It also shows that the Pres­i­dent has an in­ter­est in Ja­maica — it’s cer­tainly an his­toric devel­op­ment.”

Rowe said the move was an in­di­ca­tor of a con­tin­ued “re­newal” of the White House’s in­ter­est in the re­gion, one that be­gan with the his­toric rap­proche­ment with Cuba at the end of last year. More re­cently, the White House hosted a high-pro­file sum­mit cov­er­ing Caribbean en­ergy se­cu­rity although Vice Pres­i­dent Joe Bi­den chaired the con­fer­ence. Bi­den him­self is a fre­quent vis­i­tor to the Caribbean, par­tic­u­larly St Croix where he vis­ited ear­lier this month.

“We are con­fi­dent that through fruit­ful dia­logue and ex­changes dur­ing the visit we will suc­ceed in fur­ther strength­en­ing the close re­la­tions that ex­ist at the bi­lat­eral level be­tween Ja­maica and the USA, and be­tween the USA and CARICOM,” Simp­son Miller said.

Obama’s visit comes ahead of the Sum­mit of the Amer­i­cas in Panama on April 10 and 11.

Pres­i­dent Barack Obama headed for the

Caribbean.

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