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Chairman of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Hon. Baldwin Spencer has assured that diplomatic relations between Haiti and many Members of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) remain intact, but said that the return to constitutional and democratic processes that underpin Haiti's development are prerequisites for participation in the Councils of the Regional grouping by its newest Member State.

Briefing reporters at the CARICOM Secretariat in Georgetown on Friday (June 25), the Antiguan Prime Minister said during his meeting with Guyana's President Bharrat Jagdeo on Thursday, they agreed on the need for greater international assistance to Haiti to tackle poverty in that country. This is a view he said, was reflective of the position of the Community.

Asked about possible options for consideration by CARICOM Heads at their upcoming Meeting in Grenada, Prime Minister Spencer emphasised that all actions taken by CARICOM must ultimately benefit the people of Haiti.

In their meeting he said, the two CARICOM Heads also arrived at a consensus on the setting up of a Guyana/Antigua Commission aimed at fostering bilateral relations between the two CARICOM Member States, initially in the areas of education and training, agriculture and investment.

As part of his visit to Guyana, Prime Minister Spencer toured the new CARICOM Headquarters at Liliendaal and said he was impressed. He views the completion of the new Headquarters as a landmark achievement of CARICOM, and a means of increasing “efficiency and synergy” among staff of the Secretariat who will be housed under one roof. “I look forward to the further development of the area, including the conference centre and nearby airport,” stated Mr. Spencer.

Earlier Friday, the Antiguan Prime Minister held what he termed as “open and constructive” dialogue with Leader of the Opposition in Guyana, Mr. Robert Corbin. In those talks, he said, the need for more interactive and regular dialogue with CARICOM Heads of Government and other forms of participation in the activities of CARICOM by Regional Parliamentary Opposition groups was raised.

Prime Minister Spencer heralded the inclusion of members of Regional Parliamentary Opposition parties in the activities of CARICOM as a mechanism to potentially deepen democracy and civil society involvement. He stated: “I think we both agree that the consultations between CARICOM Heads and Opposition Leaders would bring a greater measure of transparency and democracy to our regional governance.”

The Antiguan Prime Minister departed Georgetown Friday afternoon having described his visit as fruitful.

Rose Blenman

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