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Trinidad backs Barbados, blanks Pompeo’s meeting

By Trinidad Guardian

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Dr Keith Rowley

(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.

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.

This article was posted in its entirety as received by This media house does not correct any spelling or grammatical error within press releases and commentaries. The views expressed therein are not necessarily those of, its sponsors or advertisers.

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