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Visa revocation, CARICOM division and more… What Holness, Pompeo told the media

By Jamaica Gleaner

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(JAMAICA GLEANER) – Prime Minister Andrew Holness and United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo yesterday afternoon faced four questions from members of the media following bilateral talks at Jamaica House.

Pompeo, who arrived in Kingston on Tuesday evening also held talks with leaders from six other select regional territories amid concern that the United States was seeking to divide the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).

Holness said the talks affirmed the urgent need to scale up cooperation on interrupting gun flow, border security, transnational crime, energy security, trade, disaster resilience and US investment in Jamaica and the region.

Here’s how Holness and Pompeo responded to the some of the issues raised and other matters at the press conference:

ON REVOCATION OF THE VISA OF DARYL VAZ Pompeo

We don’t talk about decisions that we make granting visas but the Jamaican people should know that we grant hundreds, thousands of permits for Jamaicans to travel to America. You return the favour. I have a command to come back here on my own, a personal visit to Jamaica, from the Prime Minister. We have a process by which we evaluate each and every person who seeks entry into the United States. It is an even process, it’s a fair-handed process but we do our best to make sure that if we get such a decision wrong, we continue to review it, so that we can make sure that we are doing the right thing. We, just like Jamaica, have security interests when we think about how we approach these problems. That’s always foremost in our mind.​

ON THE OAS AND DIVIDING CARICOM Holness

Jamaica does not see and does not engage in any policy that would divide CARICOM. 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. 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 and so we are happy to host here. Not to the exclusion of anyone and if anyone wanted to attend, all they had to do was signal. From my perspective, we would have done everything to ensure that they are present. 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, how are we talking more? My interest is to get Jamaica talking to everyone and strengthening our relationship. Particularly, with our largest trading partner. Particularly, with our largest security partner. Particularly, because we have over one million US visitors visiting our shores yearly. We have significant economic, social and cultural interest so we should never seek to create an artificial divide. Jamaica’s interest is to unite the region for prosperity, freedom and peace.

Pompeo

There is no intent from the United States to divide CARICOM. Not yesterday, not today, not tomorrow. 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 region. We made it very clear who we think should be the next leader of the OAS. We made that clear because we think he has demonstrated his ability to return financial stability to the institution to a really important place for all member states of the OAS. The things that matter to the United States of America, we think matter to each and every country in the CARICOM.
ON TRUMP IMPEACHMENT TRIAL Pompeo

No to the question of whether I have been tracking the impeachment trial during my travel. If I am legally required to testify, I would be happy to do it.

ON VENEZUELA Pompeo

I want to commend the Prime Minister for standing up to the illegitimate destabilising Maduro dictatorship and its brutal repression of the Venezuelan people. Know this hasn’t been easy but I applaud his leadership. We will keep working together to help the Venezuelan people to have a democratic nation with free and fair elections. And to return to prosperity, that the Venezuelan people so richly deserve.

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