Holness provides details of recent meeting with US president

Wednesday, May 01, 2019

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — Prime Minister, Andrew Holness, says the recent meeting with President of the United States of America, Donald Trump; and several Caribbean leaders provided a direct opportunity for the strengthening of bilateral and regional relationships.

On Friday, March 22, 2019, the leaders of five Caribbean countries – The Bahamas, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica and St. Lucia – met with President Trump, in Florida. The meeting was initiated by the United States.

Speaking in the House of Representatives on April 30, Holness said that the meeting provided an opportunity for a different dialogue with leaders of the region and the US president to explore ways of strengthening the bilateral and regional relationships and express and reaffirm the goodwill between the United States and the region.

The prime minister was replying to questions about the trip posed by Opposition Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Lisa Hanna.

Holness said the context of the meeting was the wider Caribbean and not specific to CARICOM, adding that the invitation was extended on a bilateral basis; nevertheless, the meeting provided an opportunity to address issues relevant to CARICOM member states.

The prime minister said the meeting with President Trump focused more on high-level discussions.

"The president wanted to hear the leaders' perspectives on a range of issues, including the current economic outlook from each country in attendance and for the region generally; areas in which the US could offer greater support; the situation in Venezuela; and the respective perspectives of the leaders who attended, on Cuba," he said.

Holness said specific concerns were raised by Caribbean leaders about the importance of tourism to the region and the extremely dampening effects that travel advisories and warnings had on visitor arrivals from the North American market.

"The president took a particular interest in this matter and asked that it be looked into," he said.

He said a greater role for the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) in the region was also discussed as a way to increase investment and support for strategic development imperatives of the region, particularly in energy and infrastructure.

Holness pointed out that Jamaica is already working on a cooperation programme with the United States through the Treasury Department in this regard.

He said all the leaders present expressed concern over the situation in Venezuela and support for a peaceful and sustainable solution to return the country to a stable and democratic country.

Balford Henry


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