Remarks With Jamaican Foreign Minister Kenneth Baugh and St. Kitts and Nevis Deputy Prime Minister Sam Condor
Secretary of State
We will have brief statements from our host, the chairman of COFCOR, and the Secretary of State prior to your questions.
FOREIGN MINISTER BAUGH: Thank you very much. Minister Condor, chair of COFCOR and deputy prime minister and minister of foreign affairs of St. Kitts and Nevis, Madam Secretary of State Mrs. Hillary Clinton, ladies and gentlemen, members of the media. I want, first of all, to say how pleased we are that we had our special guest here today, Mrs. Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State of the United States of America and also my colleagues from the Caribbean. We’ve had an excellent meeting. Really deep and intensive discussions took place today. It was a very short time. We regret that it ended so short, but we understand how busy our special guest is and that she has to get back to her duties in the United States of America.
Jamaica was pleased to have a bilateral before we entered the meeting of the Caribbean with the Secretary of State, and that was a very pleasing meeting. We discussed some very important issues. Principal among them being the need to develop and build productive capacities in our country, Jamaica, and the rest of the Caribbean to take advantage of the Caribbean Basin Initiative and as well as other treaty agreements that we do have in terms of having greater and more (inaudible) by productive capacities and exports and products to take advantage of those markets. We are also pleased at the commitment for CARICOM’s summit with President Obama as soon as possible – as near as possible in the future.
We are also very happy that we were able to recognize this as something developing into an annual event for this meeting between the Secretary of State and the Caribbean. We believe that today’s discussions have indeed cemented the commitment between CARICOM, the Dominican Republic, and the United States for continued dialogue. We also look forward to deepening our relations further with the clear objective of improving the quality of life of all our peoples across the region in the United States of America and in the Caribbean. Thank you very much.
DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER CONDOR: Thank you. Thank you very much. Host Foreign Minister, the Honorable Kenneth Baugh, our guest of honor, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, members of the media, a very pleasant good evening to all of you. I am particularly pleased to be here as chair of COFCOR, the Caribbean foreign ministers at this very important meeting – high-level meeting. As the minister said that this is coming to be an annual event, this is followed upon last year when we met in Barbados, and the Secretary of State has given a commitment that next year, elections or no elections, we are going to have this meeting. So we want to thank her because we believe that any future development must come through continued dialogue and engagement, and this afternoon’s engagement was rich. I’ve been around for a little while, so I believe I’m in a good position to say that this one has been really an excellent one. The presentations were thoughtful, thought-provoking, and insightful, and so we want to thank CARICOM for the work that they did in preparing us to come to this level.
And also we want to thank the Secretary of State for the excellent responses. They were very – we take some genuine and sincere responses, a full understanding of – her opening remarks were very, very comprehensive. She raised all the issues that are pertinent and relevant to Caribbean society and Caribbean peoples. And we want to thank her as well for her – for the initiative that there is, important issues like the diaspora, the marketplace, the University of the West Indies, and all the issues. And so we all want to thank her, and we want to continue this dialogue.
I won’t – I – it will be remiss of me if I didn’t thank the Government and people of Jamaica for hosting this very important conference, the excellent arrangements that have been made for this conference, and the warmth and the hospitality of the Jamaican people. I think that all added – I was able to really perform a lot better because I was so comfortable. (Laughter.) So I want to thank the people of Jamaica for the excellent arrangements and for having a good conference. I think it went very well, but in the words of the Secretary of State – in her own words, now we are turning the rhetoric into reality. If half of what were discussed come to realization, then we’ll be standing in good stead. And so we want to make sure that you continue this engagement and continue to work for the betterment of the people of the Caribbean.
I want to tell you that the discussion was wide-ranging. We started with Haiti – the reconstruction of Haiti and we ended with the CARICOM-U.S. relation, and we discussed everything between that. (Laughter.) And so I want to assure you that we were doing the work of the Caribbean people, and the Caribbean people can be proud of us. They would want maybe to note that this was our finest hour. (Laughter.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, let me join in thanking Jamaica for hosting us at this high-level meeting. And particularly, Minister, thank you for your very thoughtful and helpful suggestions. I appreciated greatly our bilateral and your contributions in the U.S.-CARICOM meeting as well.
And thank you, Chairman Condor, for the excellent running of the meeting. It was very, very clear that you had an agenda, and we went through it, and as you said, it was very comprehensive, and I thank you for that.
I am delighted to have participated once again in this high-level meeting, which is an indication of our strong commitment between the United States and the Caribbean. It is especially fitting that it is held during Caribbean Heritage Month because, of course, the United States is a great beneficiary of so many citizens who have come from the Caribbean, including one of my predecessors, Colin Powell, the son of Jamaican immigrants. And our friends from St. Kitts and Nevis reminded us that Alexander Hamilton was from Nevis. So we go way back together.
But the bonds between us are not just about the past; they are very much about the future, and that is what we discussed today in this wide-ranging conversation. I thanked CARICOM for its leadership in Haiti, where it played an instrumental role in ensuring fair and free elections and expanded economic opportunity by removing trade barriers for Haitian goods.
We reviewed our security cooperation during this past year through the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative, where we have stepped up joint efforts to crack down on corruption, illicit weapons, and narcotics traffickers, and a focus on the young people of the region who deserve the very best of opportunities, and we are committed to making that a priority.
I announced at the conference that the United States is deepening our financial commitment to the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative with $77 million in funding for fiscal year 2011, which is an increase of more than 70 percent over the last fiscal year. This is just part of our broader regional security efforts, and we’re pleased by the progress we’re making, but we know we have much more to do.
We discussed our joint efforts on climate change and renewable energy. We know that climate change is affecting every country on Earth, but it will have a disproportionate impact on small island nations like many of those that were at the U.S.-CARICOM meeting today. In 2009, in order to spark new solutions for clean energy and climate change, President Obama launched the Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas. It now consists of 40 different projects focused on everything from developing renewable energy sources to mitigating and adapting to the effects of climate change.
Today, I announced two additions to this partnership. First, the new Caribbean Climate Change Adaptation Initiative, which will connect the University of the West Indies with American universities to expand research on problems and solutions specific to the Caribbean. And second, I announced six countries – Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, the Dominican Republic, Grenada, Jamaica, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines – will receive grants to support pilot projects in efficient and renewable energy – geothermal, photovoltaic solar cells, and so much else.
And finally, I was pleased to announce a new partnership that will enlist the Caribbean diaspora to contribute to long-term economic growth. We believe that the people of Caribbean descent can be a major asset for their countries of origins and not just because of the money that is sent home in remittances, but they can put their talent and their energy and their entrepreneurial spirit to work as well. To tap this potential, the State Department recently launched the International Diaspora Engagement Alliance, that’s I-D-E-A or IDEA, which is intended to bridge the gap between diaspora communities and entrepreneurs in their countries of origin. We want to promote trade, help start businesses and develop other ways of spurring economic growth.
We have chosen the Caribbean to be the first region in the world to demonstrate the impact of this alliance. We are launching the Caribbean IDEA Marketplace, which will foster collaboration between local entrepreneurs and members of the Caribbean diaspora. And we hope that this marketplace, which will offer access to capital as well as technical assistance, will begin bearing results next year.
I want to thank our partners in this exciting new venture – the Inter-American Development Bank, Digicel, and Scotiabank. They are helping us launch this new cooperative collaboration, and you’ll be hearing more about it from some of the people who are making it happen, and I want to invite other businesses and not for profit organizations to participate.
So we’re making progress here in Jamaica and throughout the Caribbean, but we also now have a very full agenda to work on between now and our next meeting, and again, I thank our hosts, and I thank the chair and all of CARICOM for coming together to review what we’ve accomplished and to look forward with what more we can do together. Thank you. (Applause.)
MODERATOR: Thank you, Foreign Ministers. Thank you, Secretary of State. I now invite Lloyd B. Smith of the Jamaican Western Mirror to ask the first question. Mr. Smith.
QUESTION: Hello, Madam Secretary. Good day to you and welcome to Jamaica.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you.
QUESTION: The Caribbean Basin Security Initiative, you just stated that there has been a 70 percent increase in the amount of $77 million. Could you explain why this whopping increase? And what are some of the interventions that one may anticipate in terms of cracking down on corruption, illicit weapons, et cetera.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you for that question because we are working with individual countries as well as the region to identify the priorities that the countries have. So in some countries we’re working on training police officers and improving law enforcement techniques. With others, we’re working how to better collect data and information that will assist the government in providing support to law enforcement. We are looking to improve the rule of law, improve the judiciary, prosecutorial capacity. We’re looking at how to work with at-risk communities because we don’t want just to deal with the symptoms of criminality, but how do we prevent it in the first place.
We also are emphasizing maritime security because we know how difficult it is for the countries in CARICOM to be able to patrol their waters. Well, how do we better coordinate so that we take advantage of what different countries have to contribute to maritime security and surveillance? We know that there needs to be additional work on aviation, both aviation assets that can be made available to countries, but also, again, a regional approach. So there are so many different ideas that we are working on that we asked for this big increase in funding because we think these are worthy ideas, and we feel a great commitment to our friends and neighbors in the Caribbean to assist you in dealing with this very serious security challenge you face.
MODERATOR: Thank you. Mr. Brad Klapper of Associated Press.
QUESTION: Thank you. Madam Secretary, I’d like to ask you a question related to Ambassador Eikenberry’s complaint about President Karzai’s comments regarding U.S. troops as occupiers. Do these comments make Americans question the value of the mission in Afghanistan? And do they undermine the rationale for long-term – the long-term U.S. involvement in the country? And have you spoken to President Karzai about any of these concerns?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Brad, first let me say, as you know, the President delivered a very consequential speech this evening just about a half an hour or so ago, and I think he made a very clear statement of American policy and American interests in Afghanistan. As he promised when he delivered the West Point speech back in December 2009, he has set forth a realistic, conditions-based timetable for the beginning transitioning out of the military surge, which he had ordered.
At the same time, we are working to increase our diplomatic and political efforts with the Government of Afghanistan and with the region and beyond in order to look for a resolution of the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan. Certainly, we understand the frustration that is expressed by Afghans, including the president of Afghanistan about how difficult this is. On the other hand, we’re there in Afghanistan because we think it’s in the vital national security interests of the United States.
So although we certainly work together and engage in consultations with our partners in Afghanistan, I think as the President made very clear tonight, the United States Government makes decisions that are in the interests, first and foremost, of the safety and security of our own country. I will be testifying tomorrow before the Senate. So I will obviously have a lot more to say on these issues, but I think for now, I’ll let the President’s words of tonight stand without any further comment.
MODERATOR: Thank you. Ms. Natalie Campbell of IRIE Radio.
QUESTION: Good evening.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Hi.
QUESTION: I just wanted to find out what’s your feeling on – with the U.S.-Jamaica relationship.
SECRETARY CLINTON: I will certainly speak for myself and then perhaps ask my friend, Kenneth, to speak on behalf of Jamaica. But I am very heartened and pleased by the relationship. We have worked very hard over the last two and a half years, certainly since I’ve been Secretary of State under President Obama’s Administration, to deepen and broaden the relationship between Jamaica and the United States. I can remember very early on having a long, thoughtful conversation with Kenneth about some of the economic challenges that Jamaica was then confronting.
I look back now, and what Jamaica has accomplished in financial and economic terms is very impressive and commendable. We were speaking earlier about the drop in the interest rates and the dealing with the debt overhang and some of the other issues that the government has been contending with. I think that the way that Jamaica has confronted some of the issues of crime and violence, and particularly, the challenges from drug cartels is quite encouraging as well. And we have many other issues that we’re working on together that we talked about at length. So I’m very pleased by the strong relationship, and we have an agenda that we are working on together to really make it clear that we are partners, and we’re partners for the long term.
FOREIGN MINISTER BAUGH: And if I could just add to that, just to reassure you that this visit by the Secretary of State of the United States of America, the first since 1973 of a secretary of state visiting Jamaica, signals what the relationship really is like. We have a strong relationship. And throughout the difficulties that we have been experiencing in recent times, we have been in touch. As you’ve heard, we had a very long conversation.
When she visited Haiti in the aftermath of the earthquake, she came to Jamaica and passed through – I’m sorry. I hope you heard me – passed through Jamaica, stopped off in Kingston and met with the prime minister of Jamaica, had a very good conversation. Since that time, we have had other contacts in other fora across the world. We’ve had contact at the OAS and Honduras. We’ve had contact in other fora, at United Nations, in the margin of United Nations. The relationship is always strong and very productive and increasing and improving.
SECRETARY CLINTON: And I would only add that I had an excellent meeting with the prime minister just a few weeks ago in Washington when he was there on a bilateral visit. So we are in very regular contact.
MODERATOR: Thank you. Mr. Pedro Da Costa of Reuters.
QUESTION: Good evening. I just wanted to ask you a question about Libya. (Inaudible.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: That’s all right. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: It’s a good subject for the floor. (Laughter.) We’ve entered a situation in Libya that looks increasingly quagmire-like. And it’s starting to create a political headache for the Administration with Republican leaders arguing that the actions were inappropriate in the sense that they circumvented congressional approval for them. What is the – your vision for the endgame, a medium-term plan for U.S. involvement in Libya? And what do you make of House Speaker Boehner’s remarks?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, again, I am going to be testifying tomorrow at great length, probably longer than anyone cares to listen about all of these issues – Brad’s question, your question I’m sure will be fodder for the testimony. But I have to take issue with your underlying premise. I think that there is very clear progress being made in the organization and the operational ability of the opposition, the Transitional National Council, the military efforts on the ground. I don’t think there’s any doubt in anyone’s mind that Qadhafi and the people around him have their backs against the wall. The kind of support that we saw forthcoming for the Libyan opposition at the recent Libyan Contact Group meeting in Abu Dhabi was very heartening. Money is flowing, other support is available.
So I know we live in a hyper-information-centric world right now, and March seems like it’s a decade ago, but by my calendar, it’s only months. And in those months, we have seen an international coalition come together unprecedented between not only NATO, but Arab nations, the Arab League, and the United Nations. This is something that I don’t think anyone could have predicted, but it is a very strong signal as to what the world expects to have happen, and I say with all respect that the Congress is certainly free to raise any questions or objections, and I’m sure I will hear that tomorrow when I testify.
But the bottom line is, whose side are you on? Are you on Qadhafi’s side or are you on the side of the aspirations of the Libyan people and the international coalition that has been created to support them? For the Obama Administration, the answer to that question is very easy.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MODERATOR: Thank you very much, Foreign Ministers and Secretary of State. I just want to tell you that the idea of the Caribbean IDEA marketplace will continue. We have the three principals with us so that the media can ask them questions with respect to it, and thank you very much.
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