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Caribbean leaders to meet in second round of talks with Obama

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad – Caribbean leaders on Saturday (April 18) said United States President, Barack Obama will discuss economic aid, gun and drug smuggling and other issues in a second round of private talks with them later this year.

After meeting with the U.S. president on the sidelines of a hemispheric summit in Trinidad, Caribbean presidents and prime ministers described a new tone in U.S. policy and expressed hope for closer ties.

Veteran Guyanese journalist, Bert Wilkinson reporting for the Associated Press (AP) said St. Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas and his Jamaican counterpart, Prime Minister Hon. Bruce Golding disclosed that President Obama promised to ask the World bank and the International Monetary Fund to consider boosting lending to the region and the US would spend US$30 million to combat drug and weapons trafficking.

“The U.S. is not lecturing to us anymore, but rather listening,” Guyana President His Excellency Bharrat Jagdeo said, adding: “They need to listen, and that is what we got.”

Caribbean leaders said they also asked Obama to oppose a crackdown on so-called tax haven nations, insisting that offshore banking and corporate registries are key to diversifying their island economies. They gave no details on his response.

United States President the Hon. Barack Obama (c) flanked by St. Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas ( immedate right) and Bahamas Prime Minister the Right Hon. James Ingraham (left) with Dominica’s Prime Minister Hon. Rosevelt Skeritt (right). In the back row are Jamaica’s Prime Minister Hon. Bruce Golding, St. Lucia’s Prime Minister Hon. Stephenson King and St. Vincent and the Grenadadines Prime Minister Dr. the Hon. Ralph Gonsalves.
Photo courtesy of the Trinidad Express

Canadian Prime Minister His Excellency Stephen Harper also met with the Caribbean delegation on Saturday to review a pending free-trade agreement between Canada and the Caricom trade bloc.

The new deal would replace a two-decade old agreement that now gives Caribbean countries mostly duty-free access to Canadian gold, leather, oil products and other goods.

A date for trade talks has not been set.

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