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US committed to improving ties, says official


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US committed to improving ties, says official
US assistant secretary of state Brian Nicholls speaking at the Errol Barrow Centre for Creative Imagination. (Picture by Shanice King.)

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United States Assistant Secretary of State Brian Nicholls says his country is committed to continuously improving the relationship with the Caribbean in several areas.

The American diplomat, who is currently in Barbados, gave an insight into planned areas of co-operation in a brief interface with students and some faculty of the University of the West Indies Cave Hill Campus on Wednesday during a “Caribbean Relations Town Hall” meeting at the Errol Barrow Centre for Creative Imagination.

Nicholls listed the process of democratic government, climate change and trade and investment among areas of common interest between the US and the Caribbean and he anticipated that the Summit of the Americas, due to take place next month, would provide the ideal forum for areas of mutual interest to be explored.

The Summit will bring together heads of state and government of the Western Hemisphere, affording leaders the opportunity to discuss common policy issues, affirm shared values and commit to concerted actions at the national and regional level, as well as to address continuing and new challenges faced in the Americas.

Nicholls was challenged by political scientist Dr Kristina Hinds on the matter of the omission of Cuba and Venezuela from participation in the Summit of Americas. She said that CARICOM members had “better relations with Cuba”, with countries such as Barbados benefitting from co-operation with the Caribbean country which has suffered years-long isolation by the United States.

“What are the plans for better engaging with Cuba in the region as part of the Caribbean region and the hemisphere?” Hinds asked.

Nicholls replied that the United States, as the host of the Summit of Americas, “gets to determine which countries are invited to the summit”, though he pointed out it had not yet been “finalised who would attend the summit or not”.

He expressed confidence that Barbados’ Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley would ably represent issues such as that being raised at the upcoming summit.

In response to students’ questions with regard to the Biden administration’s plans for economic investment in the region, the diplomat, who has Barbadian roots, said the US attached importance to providing greater infrastructure for the region. (GC)