CARICOM Foreign Ministers and US Secretary of State discuss regional challenges at UN World Summit

Georgetown, Guyana, September 16, 2005, (CARICOM Secretariat) - Foreign Ministers of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and United States Secretary of State Dr. Condoleeza Rice held discussions on 14 September, 2005, in the margins of the High Level Segment of the 60th Session of the UN General Assembly.
The discussions gave priority to the challenges of disaster mitigation, preparedness and response, in light of the recent devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina and the forecasts for very active hurricane seasons – both in terms of frequency and intensity. They also exchanged views on recent developments in Haiti.

CARICOM Ministers reiterated the sympathetic sentiments previously conveyed by their governments and by the Community to the Government and People of the United States in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. They empathised with those affected and pledged support to the US relief efforts.

Ministers noted with satisfaction, the ongoing co-operation and initiatives between the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Response Agency (CDERA) and various US agencies specialising in disaster management and response; and agreed that every effort should be made to intensify that process, particularly within the context of the Comprehensive Disaster Management Strategy and Framework of CDERA.

Ministers also engaged the US Secretary of State on developments in Haiti, in particular, the state of preparations for the forthcoming elections scheduled to be held later this year. The Meeting noted that the Community was already working with the electoral Unit of MINUSTAH to this end. CARICOM Ministers reaffirmed the commitment of the Community to continue to assist the electoral process in Haiti and looked forward to working with the duly elected government of that Member State.

They noted that certain Member States were also extending various forms of bilateral assistance to Haiti.

The meeting between CARICOM Foreign Ministers and Dr. Rice was a follow-up to the informal exchanges that took place last June, in the margins of the 35th Meeting of the Organisation of American States (OAS) General Assembly held in Ft. Lauderdale, U.S.A.

Further consideration was given to an idea raised in June, for the convening in 2006, of a Conference on the Caribbean, in the context of CARICOM-US Co-operation. The Conference would focus on policies and programmes aimed at facilitating the development of the Region. It would include participation of representatives of Governments, Civil Society and the Diaspora. They agreed to establish a working group to develop the idea further and to report to them at the earliest opportunity.

Foreign Ministers welcomed the opportunity to continue the process of dialogue with the US Secretary of State and agreed to strive to institutionalise their meetings.

CARICOM Secretariat Press release 170/2005

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