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CARICOM Foreign Ministers, U.S. and Canadian Officials meet ahead of CARICOM Summit

CARICOM Secretariat, Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown, Guyana, Monday, 26 February 2024:    Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Foreign Ministers advanced discussions with high-level officials from the United States of America and Canada on Sunday, 25 February at the CARICOM Secretariat, ahead of the 46th Regular Meeting of the Conference of CARICOM Heads of Government.

During the 19th Special Meeting of the Council for Foreign and Community Relations (COFCOR), Foreign Ministers interacted with the US Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Her Excellency Linda Thomas-Greenfield, and Canada’s Minister of International Development, the Honourable Ahmed Hussen on priority areas of cooperation.

CARICOM Foreign Ministers and Canada’s Minister for International Development in a family photo
CARICOM Foreign Ministers and Canada’s Minister for International Development in a family photo

Chair of the meeting, Senator the Hon. Kamina Johnson-Smith, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade of Jamaica said discussions with the two longstanding development partners served to “further solidify the relationships and identify new avenues for strategic dialogue and cooperation.”

Ms. Elizabeth Solomon, Assistant Secretary-General responsible for Foreign and Community Relations at the CARICOM Secretariat, who spoke on the Secretary-General’s behalf, said the meeting provided “a valued opportunity for discussions with CARICOM’s international partners and exchanges on the substantive issues critical to the meaningful achievement of the Council’s strategic objectives.”

Underscoring its importance on the margins of the 46th Regular Meeting of CARICOM Heads, ASG Solomon added, “the COFCOR, in particular, will play a vital role in advancing a coordinated and strategic approach to strengthening our external relations. This will, in turn, allow for the provision of crucial guidance to Heads of Government for the optimal positioning of the Community on both the hemispheric and global stages.”

Discussions with Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield highlighted the progress and opportunities in the U.S – Caribbean Partnership to Address the Climate Crisis (PACC 2030), and the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative. They also touched on access to finance, renewable energy, food security, and security cooperation. 

The U.S. Permanent Representative, who is leading the U.S. delegation to the CARICOM Heads of Government Meeting, lauded host country Guyana as “a force of stability and energy security in the Region.” She further said that the U.S. is committed to deepening its partnership with the Community, stating, “Ultimately shared challenges demand shared solutions forged by conversations like the one we are having today.” 

Discussions with Minister Hussen highlighted the Canada-CARICOM Strategic Partnership on issues related to energy, climate smart agriculture and other areas. He told the Foreign Ministers that his country’s support to CARICOM is the greatest that it has been in decades. 

Mr. Hussen thanked Member States for their participation in the Canada-CARICOM Summit in Ottawa, last year and noted that the country looks forward to deepening engagement with CARICOM in the spirit of their strategic partnership, and in new areas of cooperation.

Foreign Ministers also received delegations from Ghana and Lesotho who presented their candidatures for the position of Commonwealth Secretary-General.

Senator the Hon. Kamina Johnson Smith, Chair of the 19th Special Meeting of COFCOR

According to Senator Johnson-Smith, the interactions were important to “establish vital communication channels with both prospective leaders and to foster informed decision-making, potentially shaping the future direction of the Organization in alignment with CARICOM’s interests.” 

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