Jamaica prepares for CARICOM Heads of government conference

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Foreign Affairs Minister Kamina Johnson Smith says the country is gearing up to welcome 200 foreign officials to the  39th Regular Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) that gets underway next week.
The meeting, scheduled to take place in the western capital of  Montego Bay,  , will be hosted by Prime Minister  Andrew Holness, who assumes Chairmanship of the Conference on July 1.
The foreign officials expected include Heads of State and Government of the Community and their respective delegations, officials from other regional hemispheric and international bodies and institutions as well as members of the diplomatic corps, both local and overseas, who are accredited to CARICOM.
During a press conference on Thursday, Johnson Smith, said Jamaica welcomes the opportunity to host the conference, which is expected to address several critical issues that impact the economic and social advancement of the countries of the region.
“We are honoured by it (chairmanship), as it gives us the great chance to play a major role in the development of the implementation of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) and, of course, the general integration movement in line with our development objectives and those of CARICOM member States,” she said.
She told reporters that all 15 Heads of CARICOM and heads of associate members have confirmed their attendance – adding that for the first time in 15 years, there will be full participation.
“We take the strong presence as a signal of confidence in Jamaica’s chairmanship as well as, perhaps, a positive and renewed energy and vigor around CARICOM and the potential that it holds for us all,” she said.
The Foreign Affairs Minister further noted that two special guests will attend the conference – President of the Republic of Chile, Sebastián Piñera, and President of Cuba, Miguel Díaz-Canel.
“We welcome both Presidents with open arms and look forward to hosting them here…they will both have the opportunity to engage with Heads in that context, and we very much look forward to strengthening our partnerships with both countries,” she said.
In addition, United States Deputy Secretary, John Sullivan, will be hosting a breakfast for foreign ministers on July 6.
Among the key agenda items are crime and violence, disaster management and climate change, and the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME).
The Conference of Heads of Government, which consists of the Heads of Government of the Member States, is the supreme organ of the Caribbean Community and determines and provides its policy direction.
Jamaica’s hosting of the conference this year is in keeping with the regular system of rotation within CARICOM. Prime Minister Holness’ tenure will last until December 31.

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