Open­ing State­ment by The Most Hon­ourable Por­tia Simp­son Miller, ON, MP Prime Min­is­ter of Ja­maica, CARICOM-USA Sum­mit

The Star (St. Lucia) - - CLASSIFIED -

The Gov­ern­ment and peo­ple of Ja­maica are deeply hon­oured to host this CARICOM-USA Sum­mit, in Kingston, and to again ex­tend a warm Ja­maican wel­come to The Hon­ourable Barack Obama, Pres­i­dent of the United States of Amer­ica, and to my col­league Heads of State and Gov­ern­ment of the Caribbean Com­mu­nity (CARICOM), and their del­e­ga­tions.

Mr. Pres­i­dent, the Heads of Gov­ern­ment of CARICOM at­tach great sig­nif­i­cance to this CARICOM-USA Sum­mit.

This is in­deed a spe­cial oc­ca­sion, as we seek to strengthen the bonds of friend­ship and co­op­er­a­tion, which for cen­turies, have been an in­te­gral part of the con­struc­tive of­fi­cial en­gage­ment and peo­ple-to-peo­ple con­nec­tions be­tween the United States and the coun­tries of the Caribbean.

We deeply ap­pre­ci­ate the de­ci­sion of Pres­i­dent Obama to en­gage with Caribbean lead­ers on re­gional and in­ter­na­tional is­sues of in­ter­est to both sides.

Mr. Pres­i­dent, Peo­ple across the CARICOM re­gion fol­lowed both your elec­tion cam­paigns with height­ened in­ter­est, par­tic­u­larly the 2008 elec­tion.

Your slo­gan “Yes we can” was re­peated at ev­ery op­por­tu­nity. Sou­venirs were se­cured. Your pho­to­graph has pride of place in living rooms. Your vic­to­ries have been ours. Mr Pres­i­dent,

I am go­ing to re­quest that you in­dulge me and care­fully re­flect on how you would like to con­tinue to in­spire the peo­ple of this re­gion and par­tic­u­larly our youth. You have al­ready bro­ken new ground in US/Cuba re­la­tions.

You are, I be­lieve, the first US Pres­i­dent to en­gage our re­gional body now on three sep­a­rate oc­ca­sions. This is part of your le­gacy.

Mr. Pres­i­dent, Col­league Heads, The young peo­ple of our re­spec­tive na­tions re­main the driv­ing force be­hind in­creased cul­tural con­tacts in the hemi­sphere, re­mind­ing us that through ad­vance­ment in in­for­ma­tion and com­mu­ni­ca­tion tech­nol­ogy, our vast world has now be­come a global vil­lage.

Con­tacts be­tween our peo­ple and gov­ern­ments have grown sig­nif­i­cantly over the years. The Caribbean Di­as­pora in the USA fully em­braces the USA as home, while at the same time, main­tain their cul­tural and other con­nec­tions to their re­spec­tive Caribbean home­lands. The United States and the coun­tries of the Caribbean Com­mu­nity are uniquely po­si­tioned as strate­gic hemi­spheric part­ners.

We are united by fun­da­men­tal val­ues, our in­ter­de­pen­dence and the de­sire to ad­dress com­mon con­cerns, in­clud­ing the threats to the se­cu­rity and well-be­ing of our cit­i­zens.

Trade and eco­nomic re­la­tions re­main vi­tal to the sus­tain­able devel­op­ment of our re­gion. Equally im­por­tant is our joint ac­tion on the en­vi­ron­ment, in­clud­ing cli­mate change.

Our dia­logue to­day reaf­firms our strong part­ner­ship and also sig­nals our de­sire to take CARICOM-USA re­la­tions to a higher level, cap­i­tal­iz­ing on the gains of the past and ex­plor­ing new op­por­tu­ni­ties for the fu­ture.

Within this con­text, we fully em­brace the re­cent pos­i­tive de­vel­op­ments in USA-Cuba re­la­tions.

We com­mend you Mr. Pres­i­dent and Pres­i­dent Raul Cas­tro for this bold and coura­geous move to re­new USA-Cuba bi­lat­eral re­la­tions for the com­mon good of all the peo­ple of both coun­tries.

We are en­cour­aged by your en­gage­ment and dia­logue.

Mr. Pres­i­dent, My col­league CARICOM Heads and I re­main com­mit­ted to our part­ner­ship with the United States.

We an­tic­i­pate fruit­ful and pro­duc­tive ex­changes at our meet­ing to­day to move the devel­op­ment process for­ward in the Caribbean re­gion and the hemi­sphere of the Amer­i­cas.

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