Dominica PM hoping for US assistance following summit with President Obama

RooseveltSkerrit-1Roseau, Dominica (CMC) — Dominica’s Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit says he hopes Thursday’s meeting between Caribbean Community (CARICOM) leaders and United States President Barack Obama will lead to increased assistance to the region as it deals with the impact of the ongoing global economic crisis.

Skerrit, who will be among the regional leaders addressing the summit in Jamaica, said prior to his departure that the meeting is “timely”.

“My hope is that we will hear from the President of the United States as to how does he sees the United States working with Caribbean towards addressing a number of inherent challenges which every member state of CARICOM is going through at present.

“The Caribbean is still feeling the impact of the global financial crisis, revenue is still low in many respects, costs of running these countries are huge and there is a closing of a space where countries could contract funds required to implement some of those very important projects”.

Skerrit said the regional leaders are “hoping we can hear from President Obama as to how does he sees the United States assisting the Caribbean in that regard”.

Obama arrives in Jamaica on Wednesday and the regional leaders are due to meet in caucus prior to the summit that will be dominated by discussions on energy and security.

Senior Director for Western Hemisphere Affairs, Ricardo Zuniga, speaking at a White House media briefing on Tuesday described plans for the meeting as a practical agenda to continue work already started.

“With the CARICOM leaders we are going to speak about some issues that we dealt with to a significant degree already, including security and cooperation through the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative,” he said, adding that the following the meeting earlier this year with US Vice President Joe Biden, “energy security and our shared efforts to promote a more diverse, cleaner and more sustainable energy future for the Caribbean will be discussed”.

Obama, who is travelling to Panama for the Summit of the Americas over the weekend, will meet with CARICOM leaders at the Mona campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI).

Obama will become the first US president to visit Jamaica since 1982 and Zuniga said “we’ll have an opportunity to speak with Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller about our strong support for Jamaica’s work to deal with debt crisis, a fiscal crisis…..and its strong performance in working with the IMF (International Monetary Fund) and others to address that.

Following his summit with regional leaders, President Obama will have a town hall meeting with young leaders from across the Caribbean.

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