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(CARICOM Secretariat, Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown, Guyana) As the Caribbean Community intensifies the pace of its preparations to meet in Washington DC at what promises to be the landmark Caribbean Conference on 19-21 June 2007, widespread and in-depth consultations are underway in cities across the US, between the Diaspora and the CARICOM Caucus of Ambassadors based in Washington. The aim of the talks: to ensure success and sustainability of the dialogue expected at the Diaspora Forum, touted as one of the major highlights of the Conference on the Caribbean.

Organized by the CARICOM Caucus of Ambassadors in Washington under the theme: Conference on the Caribbean: A 20/20 Vision, the Conference will feature and facilitate a series of fora to which the Diaspora Forum will be critical in providing a platform on which the Caribbean Diaspora in the United States can explore their issues.

According to CARICOM officials in Washington, the forum is intended to “…examine mutually rewarding mechanisms for harnessing their (the Diaspora) skills and resources, in accelerating the development of the Caribbean Community.”

The Diaspora Forum will be convened at the buildings of the Organization of American States (OAS), on June 19 and 20. It will attempt to delineate the challenges and opportunities of the diaspora communities and examine the impact of financial resources such as remittances on Caribbean development. The forum will also provide a mechanism for harnessing the knowledge, skills and professional networks of the diaspora in addressing the development challenges and investment opportunities in the Region.

The CARICOM Caucus of Ambassadors says it is also ensuring that Caribbean Youth, including those of the Diaspora, are allowed maximum participation in the Forum, and has issued an appeal to the CARICOM Youth Ambassador Programme (CYA) to provide a strong presence at the Forum.

The Caucus is also anticipating that key deliverables from this forum would be a policy and work programme on the Diaspora.

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