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    November 16

  • 05:03 PM

Politics of Clinton's Barbados meeting

Added 09 June 2010

by RICKEY SINGHSECRETARY OF STATE Hilary Clinton is scheduled to arrive in Barbados tonight for a one-day meeting tomorrow with Caribbean foreign ministers to discuss issues pertaining to mutual co-operation with a special focus on security and crime.The meeting, which comes on the heels of the just-concluded General Assembly of the Organisation of American States (OAS) in Peru, is an initiative of President Barack Obama’s administration and the suggested agenda largely reflects the concerns and priorities of Washington.Although CARICOM is aware of the United States government’s interest in having tomorrow’s meeting with Secretary of State Clinton, at which a “framework for security arrangements” will be a core feature of discussions, no approved agenda has been circulated, according to some foreign ministers and prime ministers.At last year’s Fifth Summit Of The Americas in Port-of-Spain, President Obama had disclosed his interest in hosting a special summit in Washington with heads of state and governments of the Caribbean region before year-end. It did not occur.Since then, there have been two summits of special significance to political and economic developments in Latin American and Caribbean affairs.The first, from which both United States and Canada were excluded, was a “unity summit in Mexico at which a new grouping of Latin American and Caribbean states was established to deepen “partnership co-operation”.Then followed the recent first-ever CARICOM/Brazil Summit, hosted by President Luis Ignacio da Silva. He was also one of the prime movers behind the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CLACS), along with Mexico, Venezuela and Ecuador.Of significance is that the modalities of operations of CLACS are to be finalised at a special summit scheduled for 2011 and to be hosted by the Venezuelan government of President Hugo Chavez.The intention is for CLACS to be administered by a leadership troika with rotating secretariat, quite unlike the operations of the OAS.Currently a number of governments in and out of CARICOM are on a defensive mode about expected diminishing roles and influence of the OAS.In response to media queries why tomorrow’s meeting between Clinton and Caribbean foreign ministers was chosen instead of one on the margins of the OAS General Assembly in Peru, an official explanation offered was that “a dedicated meeting” was the preference.While a majority of Foreign Ministers are expected to be among the participants, there could be no confirmation up to late yesterday who may not be able to attend, except for the new Trinidad and Tobago government of Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar.The Port-of-administration has taken the position against any high-level foreign representation or involvement prior to the scheduled ceremonial opening of the new 10th Parliament at which outlines of the ‘People’s Partnership Government (PPG) are expected.As this senile was being written, the US Embassy in Barbados was finalising arrangements for a scheduled announcement late in the afternoon by Secretary Clinton.According the embassy’s Press release, Clinton “will announce a major policy initiative for Latin America and the Caribbean . . .”.Official statements by Clinton at the OAS Assembly in Peru as well as those attributed to her during subsequent brief visits to Ecuador and Colombia have not revealed anything of particular significance in terms of political, economic or security arrangements.Consequently, there is much interest in the promised announcement today of “a major policy initiative for Latin America and the Caribbean”.

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