The Grenada government says it does not believe that the United States has treated the Caribbean as strategically important as it should.
A government statement said Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell met last weekend with the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs of the United States Department of State, Julie Chung, and cited a need for more engagement between the United States and Caribbean governments.
“Historically, Grenada and the United States have had good relations but I do not think the US has treated the Caribbean as strategically important as it should.
“There have been periods of active engagement, particularly after Hurricane Ivan in 2004 but regional leaders feel there is a need for greater engagement with the United States,” Mitchell is quoted as saying.
The statement quoted Chung as giving assurances that Washington is committed to ongoing relations with the Caribbean, making reference to the US strategy for engagement in the region, dubbed “Caribbean 2020,” which is designed to increase the security, prosperity and well-being of the people of the US and the Caribbean.
“As part of the Caribbean 2020 initiative, we are looking at very specific events to showcase how the partnership goes beyond security.
“Security is very important and we will continue with that, but beyond that, economic prosperity is also important, creating jobs and thinking about the next generation of leaders,” said Chung, who was accompanied by US Ambassador to Barbados, the Eastern Caribbean and the OECS, Linda Swartz Taglialatela..
Mitchell welcomed the potential prospects for improved relations with the United States, saying a priority area for Grenada would be training opportunities that can help to further empower young people.
“We have a very youthful population and I think what exists here is somewhat replicated around the region. The challenge is how do you empower these young people to help themselves and their society. Training is a fundamental aspect of this and it has implications for security as well, as more young people will be engaged in positive activities,” he said.
The statement said that the meeting also discussed the current situation in Venezuela where Washington is backing efforts by the opposition to oust President Nicolas Maduro from office.
The statement said that Prime Minister Mitchell reinforced the position of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) which has continuously advocated non-interference in the internal affairs of the country as well as meaningful dialogue leading to agreement on how best to resolve the crisis.