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(CARICOM Secretariat, Georgetown, Guyana) The Eighth meeting of CARICOM's Council for Foreign and Community Relations (COFCOR) got on the way in Freeport The Bahamas on 1 June with an extensive agenda focusing on Regional security matters and CARICOM's relationship with traditional partners and building relations with others.

CARICOM Secretary-General His Excellency Edwin W. Carrington in his address to the COFCOR, said as regards to traditional friends, the meeting “look towards to the return of a political situation in Canada which will allow us to continue to work to advance our development in support of Canada's own world vision”.

He said “our relations with the USA – a major player in our Region's trade, economic and political relations – will certainly occupy a significant place in our deliberations requiring as it does some buttressing. This Organ will no doubt seek to do so consistent with the fundamental principles on which our Community is based.”

In speaking of the Community's relations with the United Kingdom, the CARICOM Secretary-General said the UK “will similarly receive the special attention of the COFCOR, particularly given the presence of the UK in the Caribbean through its overseas territories, many of which are Associate Members of our CARICOM Community”. He pointed to the “recent security cooperation programme between that country and the Community and the existence of a CARICOM-UK Transmission Mechanism to give voice to CARICOM's concerns in fora in which the Community has no membership, attests to the great value of this relationship”.

Mr. Carrington emphasised that CARICOM relations with Japan, India, Italy and the African Union are expected to be heightened in the near future, and pointed out that the Caribbean Community has been taking active steps to enhance relations with the Latin American Region, and in particular with Brazil.

He noted that Guyana and Suriname were members of the South American Community of Nations and said CARICOM participates as a bloc in the Rio Group through Guyana which will assume the Presidency on behalf of the Region in January 2006.

On the question of Haiti, the CARICOM Secretary-General said there was continued cause for concern “as security remains fragile, violence persists, respect for human rights deteriorates and development stagnates. Our leaders have called on the international community to hold the Interim Administration to international human rights standards and to accelerate the fulfilment of their financial pledges to Haiti.”

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