A&B gov’t saddened by Caribbean leaders meeting today with US President

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Despite the release of a joint statement condemning any intervention and interference in the affairs of Venezuela, the Antigua and Barbuda government said it was regrettable that members of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) continue to be divided over the issue.

A White House statement issued on March 19th stated that Jamaican Prime Minister, Andrew Holness; Bahamas Prime Minister, Dr. Hubert Alexander Minnis; President of the Dominican Republic, Danilo Medina; President of Haiti; Jovenel Moise; and Prime Minister of St. Lucia, Allen Chastanet will meet with U.S. President Donald Trump today at his Florida resort, Mar-A-Lago.

The U.S. State Department said the meeting shows the support of a joint effort to depose Venezuelan President Nicholas Maduro.

The United States has recognized Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido as the country’s interim president.

At a Cabinet press briefing yesterday, Minister of Information Melford Nicholas said the government of Antigua and Barbuda continues to believe in upholding the country’s relationship with Venezuela, despite President Donald Trump’s intent for the meeting.

“It is what it is. We cannot boost the intent of President Trump. But so far as Antigua and Barbuda is concerned, wherever we have to be engaged with international powers, in any hemisphere or in an inter-agency, we take positions based on principles. We do not consider ourselves hostile to any country,” he said.

The White House also stated that the meeting will seek to address measures to counter China’s predatory economic practices.

China has been a thorny issue for the United States in recent times, with the United States currently involved in a trade war with China that has affected international trade markets.

Additionally, Washington has warned countries in the region against accepting Chinese investment.

In October, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters in Mexico City that “when China comes calling it’s not always to the good of your citizens.”

Nicholas says the U.S. criticism of China does not reflect the support that China has put in the development of the Caribbean.

“More importantly, with respect to the United States’ criticism of China’s incursion into this part of the world and the development assistance, the diplomacy of China is different from what we expect from the United States. The Prime Minister made this position clear before, as China has put hard currency and support our development where it is clear to track over the last 25 years the benefits that our relationship with China has spawned,” Nicholas said.

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