LAST MONDAY'S report in the DAILY NATION of a likely visit to Barbados by United States Secretary of State Hilary Clinton to meet with Caribbean Community (CARICOM) foreign ministers has come as a surprise to the Community Secretariat. A clarification is now being sought by the Guyana-based Secretariat which is of the view, according to informed officials, that it would "most likely advise against such a meeting at this stage . . .". The intention, as reported, was for the US Secretary of State to meet with the CARICOM foreign ministers on her way to the coming June 6-8 General Assembly Meeting of the Organisation of American States (OAS) in Peru. No specific information has been made available to CARICOM administrations to justify such an impromptu meeting in Barbados, ahead of the OAS General Assembly. Therefore, the prevailing view is that arrangements should instead be made for a meeting of CARICOM Foreign Ministers and the US Secretary of State on the margins of the OAS Assembly, and examples were given to precedents for this approach. Further, it is felt that by the time of the scheduled OAS Assembly there should be "more clarity" on how issues of importance to US/CARICOM relations should be prioritised for action. The USA and Canada are known to be concerned about their exclusion from a new bloc of states in the Western Hemisphere that could well result in diminishing the influence of the OAS. Known as the Community of Latin America and Caribbean States (CLACS), this new group of nations was agreed to at a "Unity Summit" last February in Mexico of leaders of Latin America and the Caribbean. Active proponents of CLACS at that summit included Brazil, Venezuela, Ecuador and Mexico. Cuba, which shows no interest in returning to OAS membership, was also a participant in the Mexico summit. The formal arrangements for operationalising CLACS are to be approved at a follow-up "unity summit" scheduled to be hosted next year by the Venezuelan government of President Hugo Chavez. Meanwhile, CARICOM governments are also seeking further information on a reported proposal by President Barack Obama's administration to assist this region to more effectively tackle crime and violence with the help of US experts who will be based in the region as "resident advise".