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The foreign Minister of the Caribbean nations of Antigua and Barbuda, the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, the Commonwealth of Dominica, Grenada, the Cooperative Republic of Guyana, the Republic of Haiti, Jamaica, the Federation of St. Christopher and Nevis, Saint Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, the Republic of Suriname, the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, the Secretary of State of the Dominican Republic and the Secretary of State of the United States, met in Port-of-Spain today, April 6, 1998 to review the progress on the Plan of Action adopted at the Caribbean-US Summit held in Bridgetown, Barbados on May 10, 1997. They discussed a wide range of international issues, including the upcoming Second Summit of the Americas, which will convene in Santiago, Chile, on April 18-19, 1998.

The Foreign Ministers and Secretaries of State reviewed the work of the Joint Committee on Development, Finance and the Environment and on Justice and Security, as well as that of the Trade and Investment Council. In this regard, they welcomed the significant progress made in the cooperation in the area of justice and security. They are also pleased to announce the establishment of a “quick-consult” mechanism, which will provide for government to government consultations on either a bilateral or regional basis within 30 days on trade matters of special concern to any of the partners.

The Foreign Ministers and Secretaries of State agreed that further liberalisation of the transportation links between the United States and the Region could play an important role in the continued strengthening of ties between the Caribbean and the United States, facilitating transportation networks, and enhancing the development of tourism and other areas of economic activity. To this end, the Caribbean side advised of its readiness to advance discussions with the United States regarding “Open Skies” civil aviation agreements. The Caribbean side also advised on the efforts underway in the region to strengthen aviation safety mechanisms and the Foreign Ministers and Secretaries of State agreed to continue to monitor the work on the feasibility of establishing a regional civil aviation regulatory and oversight mechanism.

The Foreign Ministers and Secretaries of State welcomed, with pleasure, the Government of the Dominican Republic’s Offer to host in January 1999 the first Caribbean-United States Trade and Investment Forum and pledged their support to ensure its success. They also welcomed the upcoming Business Development Mission to Barbados, Saint Lucia and Grenada sponsored by the United States Department of Commerce.

The Foreign Ministers and Secretaries of State noted with satisfaction that the upcoming Second Summit of the Americas in Santiago, Chile will serve as a springboard for concerted action toward hemispheric integration, including the negotiation of a Free Trade Area of the Americas by 2005. The Foreign Ministers and Secretaries of State agreed on the need to ensure the concerns of the smaller economies are effectively address in the negotiations of the various aspects of the agreement. The United States reaffirmed its commitment to passage of legislation to confer CBI treatment on an extended basis to products of Caribbean origin which are currently excluded.

The Foreign Ministers and Secretaries of State agreed on the importance of mutual satisfactory marketing arrangements for Caribbean bananas in their traditional markets of the European Union. The United States restated its commitment to the continued economic viability of Caribbean States heavily dependent on banana exports. The United States also announced the provision of an additional US$2 million for micro enterprise and rural development, strengthening of trade ministries, and training, including post-graduate scholarships in the United States and regional, short-term courses for nationals of the Eastern Caribbean banana-producing countries.

The Foreign Ministers and Secretaries of State re-emphasised the importance of the Caribbean Sea to both the Caribbean nations and the United States. In this context they reiterated their commitment entered into at Bridgetown to work toward obtaining international agreement in making the Caribbean Sea an environmentally sustainable zone. They also reiterated their commitment to meeting climate change goals at the upcoming Buenos Aires Conference.

The Foreign Ministers ands Secretaries of State noted with satisfaction the multiple actions and cooperation taking place between the United States and the nations of the Caribbean in the Justice and security sphere. These included the establishment of the Maritime Cooperation Agreements and Mutual Legal Assistance and Extradition Treaties between the United States and most of the Caribbean nations as a means of strengthening their joint fight against narcotics trafficking and international criminals.

These actions also included the implementation of a second phase of a regional legal reform training project at the University of the West Indies; the implementation of as regional anti-money laundering project by August 1998; and the definition of a regional justice protection programme.

The Foreign Minister sand Secretaries of State had valuable discussions on the importance of continuing multilateral action in particular on asset forfeiture, money laundering, anti-corruption measures, the regional justice protection programme, the strengthening of regional security forces and on arms trafficking. With regards to arms trafficking, the Foreign Ministers and Secretaries of States expressed satisfaction with the conclusion of the OAS Convention on Illicit Firearms Trafficking, signed in November 1997, and they pledged to seek it early ratification along with the implementation of regulations to illicit arms trafficking control. The Deportation of Caribbean nationals convicted of crimes in the United States continues to be a matter of grave concern to Caribbean nations. The Foreign Ministers and Secretaries of State continues noted that the United States has proposed a regional Memorandum of Understanding regarding advance notification of deportations, and have agreed to keep these maters under close observation.

The Secretaries of State of the United States and the Dominican Republic commended CARICOM’s role in helping the parties find a formula to resolve Guyana’s political impasse, including the ongoing audit of the recent election and other measures to strengthen democracy and to ensure the preservation of law and order. The Foreign Ministers and Secretaries of State agreed that it is of the utmost importance the parties to the Herdmanston Accord observe fully its letter ans spirit. They recognised the further regional unity and greater economic prosperity cannot occur in the Caribbean without political stability.

The Foreign Ministers and Secretaries of State expressed support for the CARICOM and OAS efforts to examine constitutional alternatives to secession in St. Christopher and Nevis and agree to keep the matter under close review in light of shared concerns for the security an stability of the region.

The Foreign Ministers and Secretaries of State pledged to continue their active oversight of implementation of the Bridgetown Plan of Action and in this connection agreed to meet during the 53rd session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York in 1998, and again within one year of this meeting, in Washington , DC.

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