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Hillary coming

Tony Best

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UNITED STATES Secretary of State Hillary Clintonis scheduled to visit Barbados early next month, according to highly placed sources in Washington.She is expected, while here, to meet with CARICOM foreign ministers and their advisers to discuss crucial United States-Caribbean relations.“Meetings will be involved inthe visit to Barbados,” according to one diplomatic source.“It will be a short visit. We will know the details in a few days’ time. We are not certain if it’s going to take place before or after the 40th session of the General Assembly of the Organisation of American States, but we expect that questions of security and the relationship between the Caribbean and the United States are going to be high on the agenda in Barbados.”The annual OAS General Assembly is being held in Peru from June 6 to 8 with peace, security and cooperation as the theme. CARICOM foreign ministers, including Barbados’ Senator Maxine McLean, are to attend. The Assembly isthe OAS’ highest decision-making body. Clinton will be the third top member of the cabinet of President Barack Obama to visit Barbados since he moved into the White House last year. The others were United States Attorney General Eric Holder, who was in Barbados last year to open a public complex in St Joseph named for him, while Defence Secretary Robert Gates was recently in the island where he met with CARICOM security and defence ministers.“It’s part of what can be called a tradition dating back to when Bill Clinton was president and when he held a summit with CARICOM leaders more than a dozen years ago,” said the source. “Back then it was decided that the secretary of state would meet periodically with CARICOM foreign ministers. Some of those meetings have taken place in the Bahamas. But generally, they meet on the margins of the OAS General Assembly or the United Nations General Assembly in September or October. The upcoming meeting in Barbadosis in keeping with that pattern.”When President Obama attended last year’s Summit of the Americas in Port-of-Spain, he committed Washington to pursuing better ties with the Caribbean and the rest of the Western Hemisphere, and a source said that the session in Barbados would be a follow-up to the President’s commitment. “The recent visit of the Secretary of Defence to Barbados was also in keeping with the President’s promise,” added a source.“It’s our understanding that it was felt that a session of this kind should be held in the Caribbean. It will be Clinton’s second trip to Barbados; the first was with her husband in 1997.”