T&T PM Rowley downplays significance of Trump meeting with selected C'bean leaders

Thursday, March 21, 2019

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PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad (CMC ) — Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley today brushed aside suggestions that Port of Spain had been snubbed by United States President Donald Trump who is expected to meet with selected Caribbean Community (CARICOM) leaders on the Venezuela issue in Miami tomorrow.

“That there are people in Trinidad and Tobago who believe that because Trinidad and Tobago was not invited to the private residence of an American president we are somehow diminished,” Rowley said at a news conference following the weekly Cabinet meeting here.

“Ladies and gentlemen, we have never stood taller, we have never stood prouder and as I speak to you now CARICOM's position as reaffirmed in the last meeting of heads in St Kitts-Nevis is that there are three people representing and authorised to represent CARICOM outside of its heads and caucus and that's the Chairman of CARICOM, who is the Prime Minister of St Kitts-Nevis (Dr Timothy Harris) Trinidad and Tobago its prime minister or designate and Barbados through its prime minister or designate.”

He told reporters that there were 15 CARICOM countries “yet the conversation is about four” a reference to St Lucia, The Bahamas, Jamaica and Haiti, whose leaders will meet with Trump on Friday at his private residence in Miami.

The Caribbean leaders invited had in January supported a resolution at the Organisation of American States (OAS) in not recognising President Nicolas Maduro's second five-year term.

But CARICOM leaders at their inter-sessional summit in St Kitts-Nevis last month reiterated their position of non-interference in the internal affairs of Venezuela and said they were prepared to mediate in the process to bring about a peaceful resolution to the crisis where Opposition Leader Juan Guaidˇ with the support of Washington and its allies, is seeking to replace Maduro, who was sworn into office for a second consecutive term in January.

In late January, regional leaders, led by Harris and including Mottley and Rowley met with the United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres, expressing optimism that the UN will assist in establishing the road map towards peace and security for Venezuela.

The delegation also participated in a meeting in an international meeting in Uruguay where the Montevideo Mechanism was adopted saying it presents “the only objective mechanism” to address the complex political situation in Venezuela”.

Rowley reiterated the CARICOM position on wanting a peaceful solution in Venezuela, and described the meeting taking place with Trump on Friday as a “meeting of the Lima Group” to which the Caribbean islands invited are members.

“We from early, St Kitts-Nevis, Dominica, Trinidad and Tobago, St Vincent and the Grenadines, we did not sign on to the Lima Group. So we are not reacting to an invitation to a man's house.

“Our foreign policy has always given us an insight of the road ahead. So what you seeing there is a meeting of the Lima Group people at the private residence of the president and it remains a position that we support, a man's home is his castle, you are free to invite who you want to invite to your house.


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