Remarks by Council President, Barry S. Featherman - 9/22/04





Washington, DC - Sep 22, 2004

Welcome to this Second Annual Congressional Dinner with the Caribbean Community held under the auspices of the Inter-American Economic Council. This program is designed to provide a forum for the Caribbean Heads of State and Government to discuss with Members of the Unites States Congress ways in which the multilateral relationship between the United States and the Caribbean can be strengthened. Of critical importance is the opportunity to offer an on-going forum for dialogue with both the United States Congress and the Caribbean Political Leadership at the highest levels.

This Capitol Hill meeting also fulfills a key part of our Council's Caribbean Initiative. We are fully committed to working in partnership with Members of the House Congressional Caribbean Caucus and Caribbean Governments to strengthen the relationship between our countries. We are focusing our efforts on Trade Integration, Economic Development, Financial Matters, Tourism, Security, HIV-AIDS, and other critical issues of relevance in this important relationship. Whilst we face a variety of difficult issues on the agenda, the Caribbean is well served by an outstanding team of Ambassadors accredited to Washington.

At this same meeting last year, The Foreign Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, Dr. Timothy Harris spoke of the need to institutionalize this meeting. We followed up on his suggestion and are delighted by the support for this initiative that has been shown by the Caribbean Governments and Members of the U.S. Congress. We hope that participants will be able to join us and follow up on these discussions during the Council's Annual January U.S Congressional Delegation to the Caribbean, the Proposed Business Roundtable at the Heads of Government Meeting and at next June's OAS General Assembly Meeting Business Roundtable in Florida. We also hope that you can join us at our Annual Awards Gala held on February 3, 2005 in which we will launch a Scholarship for Inter-Cultural Understanding for Caribbean Students in the Hall of the Americas at the Organization of American States.

Finally, I want to salute the Heads of State and Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community including President Runaldo Ronald Venetiaan, Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves, Prime Minister Kenny Anthony, Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer, the bi-partisan Members of the United States House of Representatives Congressional Caribbean Caucus including Co-Chairs Rep. Bob Ney and Rep. Donald Payne and their staffs, the Caribbean Foreign Ministers, the Caricom Ambassadors and Diplomatic Corps in Washington, DC, H.E. Dr. Miguel Angel Rodriguez, Secretary General of the Organization of American States, H.E. the Honourable Edwin Carrington, Secretary General of the Caribbean Community, Dr. Richard Bernal of the Regional Negotiating Machinery, Ambassador Albert Ramdin, Special Advisor to the Government of Suriname on Western Hemispheric Affairs, and Mr. R. Allen Stanford and the Stanford Financial Group without whom this program would not have been possible.

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