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Caribbean Heads of Government urge Summit participants to forge new spirit of cooperation

PORT OF SPAIN – Participants at the Fifth Summit of the America now underway in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago should use the opportunity to promote partnerships and dialogue to find solutions to the problems that confronted them, Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) advised Friday.

CARICOM Heads of Government met in Caucus Friday morning ahead of the ceremonial opening of the Summit and in a Statement called for the forging of a new spirit of cooperation, and a fresh approach to Cuba.

“Now, at this the most critical time in our modern history, we must let wisdom and statesmanship, not acrimony and old animosities guide our thinking and our actions. On this day, and in this beautiful city of Port of Spain, we appeal to our colleague Leaders, from across the hemisphere to join us in forging a new spirit of cooperation and unity of purpose, one that will strengthen development, promote social cohesion and improve the lives of all of our citizens,” the Heads of Government said in their Statement.

Among the Community’s priorities at the Summit are environmental policies related to its adaptation to climate change, issues related to the Region’s economic development as it tackled the global financial crisis and the lifting of the US economic blockade on Cuba.

The Heads of Government of CARICOM said that they had made it clear at every Summit that the inclusion of Cuba into the mainstream of hemispheric affairs remained a matter of priority importance for them.

“In this regard we welcome the initiatives recently taken by the President of the United States Barack Obama to remove the restrictions on remittances and travel by Cuban-Americans. We are convinced that the new US Administration fully understands the need for new approaches in a new era of hemispheric partnership, which will lead to changes including a lifting of the embargo. We expect also that a framework can be established to promote dialogue on the issues that have defined the relationship between the United States and Cuba over the years,” the Statement said.

The CARICOM leaders said they were ready to assist in any way to promote the dialogue between Cuba and the United States to rebuild their relationship.

“We appreciate the need for wide consensus-building on this issue within all branches of the United States Government and the importance therefore for all leaders to show patience and understanding towards the Governments of the United States and Cuba as they embark on what we hope will be a defining moment in their bilateral relations,” the Statement said.

The three-day Summit which brings together 34 Hemispheric Heads of State and Government concludes on Sunday.

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