KINGSTON – The United States has denied suggestions that it is working towards dividing the 15-member regional integration movement, Caribbean Community (CARICOM), as its Secretary of State Michael Pompeo Wednesday held “frank discussions” with Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness.
“There is no intent by the United States to divide CARICOM. Not yesterday, not today, not tomorrow. We want all the countries of this region to prosper and be successful,’ Pompeo told a news conference following the talks with Holness.
“We know countries in this region will agree with the United States on certain positions from time to time and disagree with us from time to time. That’s true for Jamaica as well as for many of the folks that I visit with this afternoon.
‘We want to invite them all to be part of the economic prosperity security zone that is this region. We welcome the leadership that Jamaica has demonstrated in this region, in the CARICOM,” he added.
“There is absolutely no attempt to divide, we have conversations, dialogue with every country, we welcome that, we want to meet with them all, We would welcome them all to participate in all the conversations that we are having about the important issues and the things that matter to the United States of America, we think matter to each and every country in the CARICOM.
“We want to work with them closely to develop our security prosperity, dialogue with them so we can all be successful, not divided, but together.”
CARICOM Chairman and Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley said last weekend that as chairman of the regional integration movement “it is impossible for me to agree that my Foreign Minister should attend a meeting with anyone to which members of CARICOM are not invited. If some are invited and not all, then it is an attempt to divide this region”.
Her position has been publicly supported by Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Trinidad and Tobago.
Pompeo will later Wednesday participate in a round table with the foreign ministers of Bahamas, Belize, Dominican Republic, Haiti, St Kitts and Nevis, and St Lucia.
Prime Minister Holness told the news conference that he wanted to ‘endorse” the sentiments made by Pompeo, adding “Jamaica does not want to see and does not engage in any policy that would divide CARICOM.
“CARICOM is an important fraternity of countries. But more than that it is the fraternity and we want to keep it that way. In modern diplomatic relations, in the exercise of foreign policy, we all must respect the sovereignty of countries to determine how they structure their foreign policy”.
Holness said in that regard ‘when friends ask to be hosted or for us to host them, we are friends and so we do that.
‘We are friends with the United States, so we are happy to host here, not to the exclusion of anyone, and if anyone wanted to attend they just had to signal. From my perspective, we would have done everything to ensure that they are present “.
Holness said that the focus has to be “for every single member of CARICOM and for every Jamaican to ensure that there is engagement.
“So the conversation should be how do we get greater engagement…and my interest is to get Jamaica talking with everyone and to strengthening our relationship, particularly with our largest trading partner, particularly with our largest security partner, particularly because we have over a million US visitors visiting our shores yearly.
“We have significant economic, social and cultural interests, so we should not accede to create an artificial divide. Jamaica’s interest is to unite the region for prosperity, freedom and peace,” Holness told reporters.