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CARICOM Leaders pleased with positive US summit

WASHINGTON, DC – Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Heads Of Government have reported a very positive and businesslike two-hour meeting with US President George W. Bush that will set in motion the Region’s quest for a more mature partnership with the United States.

Dr. The Hon. Ralph Gonsalves, Chairman of CARICOM and Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines and the Rt Honourable Owen Arthur, Prime Minister of Barbados, and President Bharrat Jagdeo briefed the media on their meeting with President Bush today at the US State Department and other engagements on Capitol Hill with the House of Representatives Foreign Relations Committee.

The meeting with President Bush was the highpoint of the historic three-day Conference on the Caribbean which wraped up in Washington DC on Thursday, June 21. The others were the Diaspora Forum at the Organisation of American States (OAS), the Experts Forum at the World Bank and the Private Sector Dialogue at the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).

Among the issues raised with the US President, the Heads of Government said, were the overriding issues of trade economic growth and development, security for all and social investment.

President Bush also emphasized trade relations, as well as matters of energy, particularly biofuels, the immigration bill and also raised concerns regarding the Region’s relations with Cuba and Venezuela.

“Commitments were given on certain matters; consideration was expressed in respect of other issues on which commitments were unable to be given then and there, because some matters obviously would have to be studied,” Prime Minister Gonsalves said.

One of those commitments, according to Prime Minister Arthur, was the consideration of renewing and updating trade arrangements that were currently in limbo, and modernising the Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI) into an arrangement that goes beyond trade.

The mechanism will now have to be pursued to carry the new multi-pronged relationship forward, the leaders said.

“We are very grateful for the expressions of support and understanding that came from the President and the Congress,” President Jagdeo told the media.

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