PM Harris discusses boosting Caribbean maritime trade and security during successful bilateral meeting with Venezuela’s foreign minister

(PRESS SEC) — St. Kitts and Nevis’ Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris held a wide-ranging and fruitful bilateral meeting in Caracas, Venezuela on Monday, March 6th, 2017 with officials in President Nicolás Maduro’s administration.

The highly successful meeting between the Honourable Prime Minister and Her Excellency Ms. Delcy Rodríguez, the Foreign Minister of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, took place at the Casa Amarilla (the Yellow House), which is the protocol building of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Mr. Raúl Li Causi, Vice Minister for the Caribbean, supported the Foreign Minister during the meeting.

Early in the meeting, the Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, who is the present Chairman of the OECS Authority, broached the topic of the role that Venezuela can play in helping to boost intra-regional agricultural trade. One avenue would be to help upgrade boat facilities so that there can be adequate refrigeration and ventilation systems onboard. Good storage facilities would reduce loss of produce during transport and ensure that high-quality fruits and vegetables are traded among the islands.

Prime Minister Harris, who is also the Minister of National Security, told both the Venezuelan Foreign Minister and the Vice Minister for the Caribbean that he is committed to strengthening the ability of the Coast Guard Unit of the St. Kitts-Nevis Defence Force to assist in the prevention of drug trafficking among the islands.

Dr. Harris noted that his Team Unity administration is seeking support from the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela because “You have developed a very good Coast Guard.”

At that moment, Foreign Minister Delcy Rodríguez addressed Mr. Raúl Li Causi, saying: “Probably, you can take some people from here to there to meet with the right people.”

Later in the meeting, Mr. Raúl Li Causi, Venezuela’s Vice Minister for the Caribbean – inspired by Prime Minister Harris’ passionate advocacy for a stronger Coast Guard network to protect the open coasts – followed up, saying: “OK, we will have a meeting with all the OECS [Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States] countries on the matter of security with Venezuela in order to achieve a level of security.”

Venezuela’s Foreign Minister Her Excellency Ms. Delcy Rodríguez added: “Yes, and it will be in the framework of cooperation.”

Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris replied: “That would be fine. We need some support in terms of the patrolling of our coasts.”

During his press conference on Wednesday, February 1st, the Honourable Prime Minister said that the Royal St. Christopher and Nevis Police Force conducts ongoing engagement with regional and international agencies in its efforts to curb and solve gun-related homicides and violence.

Prime Minister Harris further stated at the press conference that his Team Unity Government plans to strengthen and expand its own engagement aimed at crime reduction, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will play a vital role in advancing the dialogue with regional and international allies.

The Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis said during his press conference on February 1st that, “We have to ensure that our coasts are being monitored and that we can have cooperation, using equipment and intelligence from our neighbours to assist in the fight against crime. Guns are not manufactured here, and the fact that they continue to be available is a matter of concern. So we are going to look both within and without [outside of the Federation] in order to bring solutions.”

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