St. Kitts and Nevis welcomes security assistance from the U.S.

Astona Browne, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of National Security

St. Kitts, June 04, 2010 (SKNIS) – St. Kitts and Nevis will benefit from increased cooperation with the United States, as the Obama Administration has committed US$37 million to aid security in the Caribbean Basin for 2010.

Astona Browne, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of National Security, told SKNIS that the inaugural Caribbean-U.S. Security Cooperation Dialogue was a success, and she was encouraged by the outcome.

“We looked at areas where we can partner jointly to address increasing crime and violence,” Mrs. Browne said, recounting details from the May 27 meeting held in Washington, D.C. “This of course will cover the trafficking of narcotics drugs and psychotropic substances, illicit trafficking in small arms and light weapons and other related transnational organized crime.”

To achieve this, the U.S. Government has offered technical assistance, as well as training and capacity building opportunities, and other necessary resources including interceptor vessels to patrol the Caribbean waters. They have also earmarked approximately US$79 million for additional security efforts in 2011.

“One of the highlights of this operation would be the promotion of social justice and also the advancement of public safety and security,” remarked the Permanent Secretary, who chaired the preparatory meetings in her capacity as the Chair of the Regional Security Policy Advisory Committee (SEPAC).

Mrs. Browne added that the U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder addressed the meeting and gave assurances that the White House was serious, and ready to act in securing the Caribbean in partnership with member states and other international allies such as the United Kingdom, Canada and the European Union.

Mr. Holder’s four grandparents and his father were born and raised in Barbados. He stated that while he is a “proud American,” he was also “a child of the Caribbean and [is] proud of that part of my heritage as well.” As such, he called on participants to “push back hard” against criminal elements noting that “we are in this together.”

The inaugural Caribbean-U.S. Security Cooperation Dialogue was attended by representatives from the Governments of Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, the Commonwealth of Dominica, the Dominican Republic, Grenada, Republic of Guyana. Officials from the Republic of Haiti, Jamaica, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the Republic of Suriname, the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, and the United States of America also participated.

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