Now let's build on those successful talks with the US

Now let's build on those successful talks with the US

Thursday, January 23, 2020

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From all reports, the two-day visit to Jamaica by United States Secretary of State Michael Pompeo was successful.

Not that we expected anything less; for, as we have repeatedly stated in this space, Kingston and Washington have, for decades, enjoyed an excellent relationship which can be seen in the many development projects here in which the Americans are playing major roles.

Add to those the fact that, of the total 4.3-million tourists Jamaica welcomed in 2018, Americans accounted for just over 1.6-million stopover visitors, as well as the reality that the Jamaican Diaspora in the US is estimated at more than 900,000 and you get a picture of the close ties between both countries.

Indeed, the tourism numbers are likely to increase significantly if US Ambassador to Jamaica Mr Donald Tapia has his way, as he has committed to promoting further growth from the US market.

As US airlines are looking to expand their routes from American cities to Montego Bay and Kingston, Ambassador Tapia, we know, has been encouraging them to offer flights to Jamaica from western locations such as Denver and Phoenix as well.

The reports out of yesterday's talks between the Jamaican and US delegations, led by Prime Minister Andrew Holness and Secretary Pompeo, respectively, are that they were fruitful, and we expect that there will be follow-up on the areas of agreement revealed by Mr Holness at a mid-morning news conference.

Certainly, in the area of security, Jamaica needs additional support, because there is no doubt that crime is taking a toll on the people of this country. Therefore, any help we can get to improve our “capacity to counter transnational organised crime, secure our borders and ports, and interrupt the flow of illicit weapons into the country”, as related by Mr Holness, is most welcome and urgent.

Prime Minister Holness also spoke to other areas of agreement, among them building upon the economic partnership between the US and Jamaica, bolstering cooperation in energy security, increased trade, greater US investment in Jamaica and across the Caribbean, and partnership in confronting natural disasters through risk reduction, building resilient communities, and improving disaster response.

All these commitments, including those Mr Pompeo made in relation to strengthening Washington's relationship with the Caribbean, are encouraging and, we must reiterate, need to be acted on to preserve the bonds of friendship between us and our northern neighbour.

Choosing Jamaica as the venue for these talks is, we hold, a signal of the confidence that Washington has in our country and Government. It also speaks to the respect with which Jamaica is held in the international community.

That, we believe, is an advantage that our Government should continue to leverage as it has been achieved by hard work and an unwavering commitment, over many years, to taking principled positions on world affairs.

There is no doubt that Jamaica and the Caribbean are regarded as important to the promotion of US interests in this side of the world. We therefore need to build on that to achieve even further consensus on matters of mutual importance.

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