T&T backs B’dos, blanks Pompeo’s meeting

Port of Spain, Trinidad, January 21, 2019 (Trinidad Guardian): The T&T Gov­ern­ment has backed Bar­ba­dos’ po­si­tion not to send a rep­re­sen­ta­tive to to­day’s meet­ing be­ing held by US Sec­re­tary of State Mike Pom­peo with sev­er­al Caribbean lead­ers in Ja­maica. The Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Min­istry con­firmed the Gov­ern­ment’s po­si­tion yes­ter­day.

The Min­istry said Prime Min­is­ter Dr Kei­th Row­ley is sup­port­ing Bar­ba­dos Prime Min­is­ter Mia Mot­t­ley on the is­sue. Mot­t­ley is cur­rent­ly Cari­com’s chair­man.

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US me­dia re­cent­ly an­nounced that Pom­peo is vis­it­ing Ger­many, Colom­bia, Cos­ta Ri­ca and Ja­maica and Flori­da from Jan­u­ary 18-23. The fight against ter­ror­ism and the cri­sis in Venezuela are ex­pect­ed to dom­i­nate the Latin Amer­i­can/Caribbean trip.

The US State De­part­ment said Pom­peo will meet Ja­maica’s Prime Min­is­ter An­drew Hol­ness to­day and “con­duct a mul­ti­lat­er­al round­table dis­cus­sion with Caribbean lead­ers, and de­liv­er re­marks on US Caribbean re­la­tions.”

Re­ports are that the meet­ing will dis­cuss ways of im­prov­ing ties with Cari­com and “out­stand­ing is­sues with Venezuela.” It was al­so re­port­ed that Pom­peo is “like­ly to stress that in­ter­na­tion­al pres­sure is re­quired for the de­par­ture of Venezue­lan Pres­i­dent Nico­las Maduro.”

It has been not­ed Wash­ing­ton is vy­ing for the re-elec­tion of Or­gan­i­sa­tion of Amer­i­can States (OAS) Sec­re­tary-Gen­er­al Luis Al­ma­gro who is back­ing Maduro’s ri­val, Juan Guai­do. Cos­ta Ri­co’s Tico Times re­port­ed that the Ja­maican stop, which in­cludes a bi­lat­er­al with Hol­ness, “aims to strength­en ties with the Caribbean”.

The Times al­so re­port­ed: “In Ja­maica, Wash­ing­ton’s main al­ly in that re­gion, Pom­peo will par­tic­i­pate in a round­table with the for­eign min­is­ters of Ba­hamas, Be­lize, Do­mini­can Re­pub­lic, Haiti, Saint Kitts and Nevis, and Saint Lu­cia. The sup­port of the Caribbean coun­tries is key to the re-elec­tion of Luis Al­ma­gro as OAS sec­re­tary-gen­er­al, which Trump’s gov­ern­ment ac­tive­ly pro­motes.”

The State De­part­ment’s an­nounce­ment on Pom­peo’s Ja­maican meet­ing did not iden­ti­fy which Caribbean lead­ers will be in­volved. How­ev­er, sub­se­quent­ly, Cari­com chair­man Mot­t­ley said Bar­ba­dos couldn’t send a rep­re­sen­ta­tive to the meet­ing since some Cari­com lead­ers were not in­vit­ed. She viewed the ini­tia­tive as an at­tempt to di­vide the Cari­com re­gion.

Op­po­si­tion MP Rod­ney Charles said the Unit­ed Na­tion­al Con­gress (UNC) had un­con­firmed re­ports that T&T wasn’t in­vit­ed to the meet­ing. Gov­ern­ment sources said this coun­try “like­ly wasn’t in­vit­ed due to our po­si­tion on Venezuela”

The Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Min­istry re­lease, which was is­sued af­ter Charles spoke, quot­ed Row­ley as say­ing: “Prime Min­is­ter Mot­t­ley has the full sup­port of the Gov­ern­ment and the peo­ple of Trinidad and To­ba­go in out­lin­ing our prin­ci­ples and vi­sion of Caribbean uni­ty. In the ex­pec­ta­tion of Caribbean uni­ty, the Prime Min­is­ter of Bar­ba­dos speaks for Trinidad and To­ba­go.

“Prime Min­is­ter Mot­t­ley said that as chair­man of Cari­com she will not agree to send her For­eign Min­is­ter to at­tend a meet­ing to which some mem­bers of Cari­com weren’t in­vit­ed. Prime Min­is­ter Row­ley has re­peat­ed­ly stat­ed that Trinidad and To­ba­go stands on its proud his­to­ry of fair­ness on the world stage, rang­ing from op­po­si­tion to apartheid in South Africa to op­pos­ing the US in­va­sion of Grena­da.”

How­ev­er, Charles claimed that T&T had “sur­ren­dered re­gion­al lead­er­ship and is no longer in­vit­ed to ma­jor re­gion­al meet­ings.” He added: “Ms Mot­t­ley’s po­si­tion high­lights Trinidad and To­ba­go’s diplo­mat­ic iso­la­tion, the sur­ren­der of our lead­er­ship role with­in Cari­com and the need for coun­tries such as Bar­ba­dos to pur­sue our in­ter­ests in the glob­al are­na. We’re lit­er­al­ly on Cari­com’s B Team, with Bar­ba­dos, Ja­maica, Guyana and even St Vin­cent.

“It’s an ax­iom of diplo­ma­cy that once a coun­try isn’t seat­ed at the ta­ble par­tic­i­pat­ing in dis­cus­sions then it may very well find it­self on the menu. Hap­less Kei­th Row­ley and his woe­ful­ly in­com­pe­tent For­eign Min­is­ter Den­nis Moses and a to­tal­ly de­mor­alised For­eign Min­istry aren’t up to the task of pro­mot­ing Trinidad and To­ba­go’s in­ter­ests glob­al­ly.”

Pom­peo’s Ja­maica meet­ing comes al­most a year af­ter US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s meet­ing last March with the lead­ers of the Do­mini­can Re­pub­lic, Ja­maica, Ba­hamas, Haiti and St Lu­cia. Those talks cen­tred on se­cu­ri­ty, trade and Venezue­lan un­rest.

Oth­er Cari­com lead­ers in­clud­ing TT’s and then- Cari­com head St Kitt’s Prime Min­is­ter Tim­o­thy Har­ris weren’t part of that meet­ing. Row­ley, Har­ris and Mot­t­ley had been head­ing talks for peace­ful res­o­lu­tion of Venezuela’s cri­sis. Oth­er Cari­com lead­ers lat­er crit­i­cised Trump’s meet­ing with the five lead­ers.

Via Trinidad and Tobago Guardian
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