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Prime Minister Andrew Holness and US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, at today's media press conference. (Photo: Twitter: @andrewholnessjm)

US Secretary of State says there is ‘no intent to divide CARICOM’

Prime Minister Andrew Holness and US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, at today's media press conference. (Photo: Twitter: @andrewholnessjm)

Prime Minister of Jamaica, Andrew Holness, and US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, today said there was no attempt to separate the Caribbean Community.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at today’s media press conference.
(Photo: Twitter: @andrewholnessjm)

The comments were made during a press meeting at the Office of the Prime Minister earlier amid the Pompeo’s arrival on the island for bilateral discussions to which only select members of the regional body were invited to participate.

In addressing the claim which became even louder this week with some regional leaders speaking out on the exclusion of some countries, Pompeo said it has never been the intention of the US to divide CARICOM.

“CARICOM is an important fraternity of countries. We are a trading bloc with our custom union, but more than that it is the fraternity and we want to keep it that way..”

Prime Minister of Jamaica Andrew Holness

“We (the United States) want all the countries of this region to prosper and be successful.  We know that countries in this region will agree with the United States on certain positions from time to time and disagree with us from time to time.

“That’s true of Jamaica, as well as it is true for many of the folks I will visit with this afternoon.  We want to invite them all to be part of the economic prosperity, security zone that is this region,” he said.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness at today’s media press conference.
(Photo: Twitter: @andrewholnessjm)

Meanwhile, Holness said “CARICOM is an important fraternity of countries. We are a trading bloc with our custom union, but more than that it is the fraternity and we want to keep it that way…We are friends with the United States and we are happy to host [its representative] here, not to the exclusion of any country, and if anyone wanted to attend they would just have had to say so; from my perspective, we would have done everything to ensure that they were present.”

At least three CARICOM nations have indicated their discontent with the meeting.

Barbados’ Prime Minister and CARICOM Chair, Mia Mottley

On the weekend, Barbados’ Prime Minister and CARICOM Chair, Mia Mottley, was reported as saying “as chairman of CARICOM, it is impossible for me to agree that my Foreign Minister should attend a meeting with anyone to which members of CARICOM are not invited. If some are invited and not all, then it is an attempt to divide this region.”

That same day, Trinidad and Tobago’s Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley issued a statement showing solidarity with Mottley. Antigua and Barbuda, through Foreign Minister E.P Chet Green, also said it supported Mottley’s position.