US Wants to Work More Closely With Caribbean to Combat Threats, Says Senior Official

US Mike Pompeo (right), greets Minister of Science, Energy and Technology, Hon. Fayval Williams (second left), at a policy discussion session on US-Caribbean relations. Looking on (from left) are Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Dr Nigel Clarke; Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Senator Pearnel Charles Jr. Also pictured in the background are Speaker of the House of Representatives, Pearnel Charles; and Minister of National Security, Dr Horace Chang. (Photo: JIS)

KINGSTON, Jamaica, Friday January 24, 2020 – United States (US) Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo says his country is looking to work more closely with the countries of the Caribbean in combatting new challenges that threaten the sovereignty and security of the entire region.

These threats, he noted, include arms and human trafficking and cybercrime.

“The challenges and the threats today, that we face together, are very different. The bad guys are more sophisticated and more ruthless and our nations have an obligation, therefore… to work in the interest of our shared security much more closely,” he said during a policy discussion session on US-Caribbean relations at The Jamaica Pegasus on Wednesday.

He said America stands ready to build on the success of the 10-year-old Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI).

The CBSI is a shared security partnership started in 2010 and includes programmes to reduce illicit trafficking, increase citizen security, and promote crime prevention, among other things.

“We are having incredible success seizing drug shipments, helping kids stay away from crime, and America stands ready to do those things in partnership with countries in the region. Let’s keep moving forward on those closer ties,” he said.

Pompeo said the US also wants to help create sound policies in the region that respect the rule of law, property rights and enable a friendly business environment.

Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Kamina Johnson Smith, in her remarks, said the relationship between the US and the Caribbean spans more than 200 years, driven in large part by people-to-people contacts.

“That relationship, which also drives investment and spending, has developed its own seamless rhythm, not directed or influenced by the State, per se, but at the same time, our governments have been strengthening our collaboration on a range of critical issues, from trade and security to energy and education,” she noted.

Senator Johnson Smith said the US-Caribbean 2020 strategy will set the stage for even deeper engagement.

“Moving forward, we will intensify our efforts to address our shared priorities to combat transnational organised crime, to promote energy security, ensure healthy and educated societies and to grow our economies,” she noted.

“We are indeed committed to achieving economic prosperity and a stable and peaceful region. We look forward to the further strengthening of collaborations in these commitments and in particular those that are aimed at strengthening private-sector investment in Jamaica and the wider Caribbean,” she added.

Pompeo arrived in Jamaica on Tuesday for a two-day working visit, departing the island on Wednesday.

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