Mr Pompeo's visit an opportunity for our region


Mr Pompeo's visit an opportunity for our region

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

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The concern in some quarters about the two-day working visit to Jamaica that United States Secretary of State Michael Pompeo is scheduled to begin today is somewhat misplaced.

Instead of seeing the visit as a threat to the notion of Caribbean unity, we should grasp the opportunity for the region to further strengthen its relationship with our long-standing friend, the United States.

Secretary Pompeo, we are told, will hold talks with Prime Minister Andrew Holness as well as give a policy speech on the region's critical importance to the United States, and Washington's “renewed commitment to closer ties, based on shared values, interests and economic prosperity”.

That kind of agenda is not uncommon to diplomatic engagements, and we are encouraged by the fact that the head of the US State Department saw it fit to engage Jamaica and the region himself, as Mr Rex Tillerson did two years ago.

After all, given the volume of high-intensity geopolitical events now in train globally, and the fact that the US is playing a significant role in many of these issues, Washington could easily have assigned a junior in rank to Mr Pompeo to travel to Jamaica for these talks.

We expect, of course, that the unfortunate developments in Venezuela, as well as China's growing influence in this region will come up for discussion. That, therefore, will give Caricom leaders in attendance a perfect opportunity to expound on these matters for the benefit of all stakeholders.

The importance of dialogue in the relationship between states should never be lost on leaders; for they, more than most people, are aware of the indisputable fact that dialogue promotes mutual understanding and consensus between nations for the broader objective of building and maintaining peace.

Some seem to expect that all member states of Caricom should be at the meeting. That is obviously unnecessary, because if Caricom is acting as one, there should be no need for a roomful of leaders.

Secretary Pompeo's visit, we believe, is an opportunity for the utilisation of communicative action to achieve consensus at the highest level of all states involved in the talks over these two days.

In Jamaica's case, we regard Mr Pompeo's decision to come here as a further demonstration of his Government's commitment to the long-standing friendship between Kingston and Washington.

It's a friendship that this newspaper values highly, because we remember when it was threatened by the adventurism of a left-leaning Administration in the 1970s, which not only plunged Jamaica into the Cold War, but ruined the economy, resulting in a brain drain and the erosion of the middle class.

The country has now emerged from that reckless experiment, and we have our American friends to thank for their significant role in that recovery which, we hope, will help to reduce our dependence on any State to meet the economic and social requirements of our people.

So, we welcome Secretary Pompeo in the spirit of friendship and hope that the talks will be fruitful. For certainly, his country has proved, over many decades, that it is a friend in times of need and that it values the excellent relationship between both our countries.

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