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CARICOM Summit Kicks off with Calls for Integration

Castries, July 4th – The 33th Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) started today with a call to strengthen regional integration and increase aid for Haitiâ’s devastated economy.

During the opening of the three-day meeting, CARICOM’s Secretary General, Irwin LaRocque, defended the existence of the regional organization, which he termed necessary for countries in the area.

“If CARICOM did not exist it would have to be invented,” he said in response to recent criticism of the regional body for a lack of sound socioeconomic mechanisms.

Jamaican Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller reaffirmed her country’s commitment to common foreign and trade policies of CARICOM, in the wake of rumors about an alleged Jamaican withdrawal from the bloc.

“Jamaica will continue defending publicly the importance of our regional integration,” she said.

Barbados’ Prime Minister, Freundel Stuart, urged CARICOM to target Haiti and implement assistance measures, a stand that was echoed by the Prime Minister of Saint Lucia, Kenny Anthony, who took over the pro tempore presidency of CARICOM on July 1.

During the ceremony that lasted more than an hour, former government minister and CARICOM Ambassador Kamaluddin Mohammed, from Trinidad and Tobago, was awarded the regions highest award, the Order of the Caribbean Community.

The summit is scheduled to focus on the approval of a regional foreign policy, collaboration with Haiti and support for regional youth.

Created in July, 1973, the objectives of CARICOM include commercial integration, joint coordination of foreign policies and promotion of cooperation in the fields of education, culture and industry.

Full members of CARICOM are Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Montserrat and Trinidad and Tobago.

Source: Prensa Latina News Agency

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