FOREIGN Affairs Minister Darren Henfield met with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during his two-day working visit in Jamaica with CARICOM leaders this week.
Eight countries attended the meetings – Jamaica, The Bahamas, Belize, St Kitts, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, St Lucia and St Maarten.
High on the agenda for discussions between the Foreign Affairs Minister and the Department of State Secretary was the United States support for The Bahamas after Hurricane Dorian and both countries’ collaboration on shared security and prosperity. Mr Henfield said that talks with Mr Pompeo were successful. "Mr Pompeo indicated that the Americans have been engaged with us initially and will continue to be engaged with us as we cover. The meeting went extremely well, I was able to share and thank him on behalf of the Bahamian people for what they have been doing for us and for our recovery efforts. He indicated that they rescued 400 persons and donated more than $30m, in fact $34m in kind, to help us immediately following the hurricane. He assured me that they are not going to leave us, but will continue to be with us," said Mr Henfield.
Meanwhile, in speaking to CARICOM representatives, Mr Pompeo said that there should be even closer ties between Caribbean nations and the United States for the future. “I believe that the Unites States and Caribbean nations do much more together, can do much more together and importantly should do much more together,” he said.
Mr Pompeo emphasised that closer ties are for protecting both nations against ruthless powers that seek to undermine security. “We’ve always been that physically close but new challenges to our sovereignty and our security demand that we get even closer today. This is very different than the times of the Cold War. The bad guys are more sophisticated and ruthless and our nations have an obligation for our very people to work in the interest of our shared security much more closely,” said Mr Pompeo.
The Caribbean Basin Security Initiative, which has existed for the last ten years, was praised by Mr Pompeo, who said this programme has seen success in combatting crime. “That’s what we have already been doing in the Caribbean Basin Security initiative now its 10th year, a decade on,” he said. “We’re having incredible success seizing drug shipments. We’re helping kids stay away from crime. And we stand ready, American stands ready to keep doing those things in partnership with countries in the region. America stands for partnership, we’re natural friends, we are natural allies, what better time for us to move to closer ties.”