Hilary Clinton congratulates PM Douglas on CARICOM chairmanship, says United States committed to fighting crime and narco-trafficking

Jamaica’s Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Dr Ken Baugh greets US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton when she arrived yesterday at the Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay. US Ambassador to Jamaica Pamela Bridgewater (partially hidden at third left) was also on hand to greet Clinton. The US secretary of state later met with Caribbean Community foreign ministers at The Ritz-Carlton Hotel in St James. (Jamaica Observer Photo)

BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, JUNE 23RD 2011 CUOPM) – United States Secretary of State, the Hon. Hilary Clinton has congratulated St. Kitts and Nevis’ Prime Minister Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas as he assumes the Chairmanship of the CARICOM Community in July.

In a statement at a meeting with Caribbean Ministers of Foreign Affairs including St. Kitts and Nevis’ Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Hon. Sam Condor, in Montego Bay, Jamaica on Wednesday, the United States official also acknowledged CARICOM’s Acting Secretary General Her Excellency Ambassador Lolita Applewhaite for her continuing leadership.

She expressed pleasure that the United States and CARICOM are keeping to a regular schedule of these high-level meetings.

“I think we have accomplished a number of our objectives, but we know there’s a long way to go. And I can tell you right now that we will have another one of these meetings next year, election or not, in the United States, because President Obama and I are committed to this region and to the individual countries represented here,” Mrs. Clinton said.

Thanking CARICOM for its role in the recent elections in Haiti, Mrs. Clinton said the outcome of those elections actually reflected the will of the Haitian people and praised Assistant Secretary General Granderson for his invaluable role as head of the Joint CARICOM-OAS Electoral Observation Mission.

“And by removing tariffs on Haitian goods, CARICOM is helping to expand economic opportunity for Haitians, which is, of course, essential to Haiti’s long-term growth. The United States looks forward to working with you to find more ways to encourage private sector investment in Haiti even as we continue and deepen our development assistance to help Haitians rebuild their country,” she said.

Pointing out the importance of citizen security, she said she has heard from all of the nations of CARICOM and in bilateral settings that this is the single biggest issue facing the countries today.

“Your people are being subjected to relentless pressure from narco-traffickers and criminal gangs. And earlier today, I was in Guatemala for a discussion of the security situation in Central America, and we underscored the necessity of a comprehensive regional approach to these challenges so we don’t merely push violence from one country to another or from one region to another,” Mrs. Clinton told Caribbean Ministers of Foreign Affairs.

She said the United States has worked with the Jamaican police on fighting corruption, improving security in high-crime neighborhoods, and pursuing telemarketing fraud.

“We have worked with the Bahamas to train police officers on detecting firearms trafficking and begun to certify drug abuse facilities throughout the Caribbean. But at the same time, we all recognize that it’s not simply enough to step up our enforcement efforts. We need to work together to attack the root causes of criminality. So we are working with a number of you to fund vocational training, internships with private companies, and other programs that create economic opportunities for young people,” said the top United States official.

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