US, CARICOM recommit to security partnership

The United States and Caribbean countries on Wednesday reaffirmed a shared commitment to work together through the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI) partnership to reduce illicit trafficking in drugs, small arms and ammunition and increase public safety.

The Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Heads of Delegation of CARICOM countries and the Secretary of State of the United States met in Montego Bay, Jamaica on Wednesday to reaffirm the Caribbean-U.S. partnership in several key priority areas, a press release from the CARICOM Secretariat at Turkeyen said.

The meeting addressed the common challenges as outlined a year ago in Bridgetown, Barbados and served as an opportunity to review the progress made in the past year and to discuss the road forward.

And in a spirit of partnership and mutual respect, the release noted, a broad range of issues impacting their countries were discussed, including regional security, economic development, social inclusion, energy, food and nutrition security and climate change.

Since the June 2010 Bridgetown meeting, CBSI partners have concluded work on a series of technical working groups and collectively identified several key security priorities.

According to the release, the United States and the Caribbean have made progress in remedial education and jobs skills training for youth, juvenile justice reform, fighting corruption, border security, prison reform, police professionalization, regional data sharing, drug demand reduction, and maritime interdiction capacity – all priorities identified by the CBSI partnership.

Criminal
deportees

Moreover, they have had discussions on the issues of repatriating criminal deportees to their home countries and noted the need to continue addressing these issues.

The release said that the participants are looking  forward to further progress in addressing identified priorities as they prepare for the upcoming Second Annual Dialogue on regional security issues in November in The Bahamas.

The participants also reaffirmed their solidarity with the people of Haiti and their commitment to supporting that country in its reconstruction efforts and the strengthening of its institutional and human capacity in furtherance of its sustainable development.

The United States and the Caribbean are also cooperating under the Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas (ECPA) in the areas of energy efficiency, renewable energy, energy poverty, and climate change.

Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced projects that will receive clean energy technical assistance under the Advancing Sustainable Energy Solutions in the Caribbean Initiative and the Caribbean Climate Change Adaptation Initiative, which partners the University of the West Indies with U.S. universities through US partner Higher Education for Development to enhance research and promote outreach to policy-makers on climate change adaptation.

They will work together toward a successful outcome at the climate negotiations in Durban that builds on Cancun, the release added.

The United States and Caribbean countries recognized that enhancement of growth and economic development of the Caribbean would contribute to improving the international competitiveness of those countries, as well as to achieving their objectives of improved standard of living, job creation, and social stability. They therefore agreed to work together to achieving these objectives.

The United States and the Caribbean also discussed the region’s vulnerability to natural disasters and the need to continue cooperating on those issues.

They also took note of the extension of the Caribbean Basin Trade Partnership Act (CBTPA) and the possibility which it holds for Caribbean exports through increased production and productivity.

Caribbean diaspora

The participants also recognized the civic and cultural contributions of the Caribbean diaspora highlighted during Caribbean-American Heritage month in the United States.

They noted the Caribbean diaspora’s connections to their communities in the Caribbean and considered ways to engage those communities in solving shared problems.

The release noted also that on May 17, 2011, the U.S. Secretary of State announced the launch of the International Diaspora Engagement Alliance, or IDEA. This public-private partnership will provide a platform for the private sector, public institutions, and diaspora organizations to coalesce and work together on issues of common interest.

Building upon the contributions of the Caribbean diaspora in the U.S. and the launch of IDEA, the U.S. Secretary of State announced the Caribbean IDEA Marketplace.

This is  a business competition platform being developed in partnership with public and private institutions to challenge global Caribbean diaspora business and social entrepreneurs to generate innovative projects that will stimulate employment and economic growth in the region, the release concluded.

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