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U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice agrees to strengthen cooperation with CARICOM-US relations

Nassau, The Bahamas – Foreign Ministers of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), under the Chairmanship of Minister Fred Mitchell of The Bahamas, and the U.S. Secretary of State, Dr. Condoleezza Rice, agreed to strengthen cooperation with a view to enhancing CARICOM-US relations.

The Ministers and the Secretary of State recognized the common democratic values and traditions that have historically linked the peoples of the United States and the Caribbean. They discussed such key issues as support for the democratically-elected Government of Haiti; CARICOM integration, including the establishment of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy and trade competitiveness; the link between development and democracy; security cooperation and disaster preparedness.

Secretary Rice welcomed CARICOM’s decision to re-engage Haiti, and to provide assistance for its institutional development. Both Parties agreed on the importance of the international community remaining engaged in Haiti over the long term, in order to promote stability and socio-economic progress.

The Ministers and the Secretary of State reviewed initiatives to promote regional economic reform and integration, and underscored the importance of free trade as an engine of economic growth and development.

They noted the significant progress made in restructuring the economies of the region through the creation of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy a vital component of which is a regional Development Fund.

They proposed a re-configured US-CARICOM Trade and Investment Council, as well as an early meeting of CARICOM Trade Ministers and the United States Trade Representative.

The Parties discussed the important relationship between democracy and development; and agreed to enhance cooperation to strengthen the capacity of Governments of the region to continue to deliver the benefits of democracy to all their peoples.

The Ministers and the Secretary of State agreed to support regional efforts to enhance law enforcement and security cooperation, air safety and oversight and disaster preparedness. Both Parties confirmed their intention to collaborate on an arrangement against the illicit trade in firearms.

The Secretary of State agreed that the United States will support the CARICOM preparations for the security of Cricket World Cup 2007, with particular focus on border security.

The Ministers and the Secretary of State welcomed the recent resolution of the US Congress to commemorate Caribbean American Heritage Month in June. The resolution is recognition of the deep and lasting human ties that bind the United States and the Caribbean.

The Ministers and the Secretary of State underscored the desirability of regular dialogue between the Parties. They agreed to convene a Conference on the Caribbean at a mutually convenient time in 2007.

Ministers and the Secretary of State expressed their appreciation to the Government and people of The Bahamas for the excellent arrangements made for the holding of their meeting.

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