Venezuelan leader makes surprise visit to OECS summit

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KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent, Apr 12, CMC – Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro arrived here on a surprise visit for talks with leaders of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) who were resuming their 64th summit here on Wednesday.
Maduro was treated to a red carpet welcome when he landed at the Argyle International Airport, which was built with support from the South American nation.
His visit comes less than two months after he was originally scheduled to attend the ceremonial opening of the multi-million dollar airport.
He was met on arrival here by Foreign Affairs, Sir Louis Straker and Venezuelan diplomats based here.
Kingstown and Caracas have maintained and deepened their ties and the island is one of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries that have benefited from Venezuela’s PetroCaribe, an initiative aimed at providing oil at a cheaper price to several countries..
Under PetroCaribe, participating nations can import fuel from Venezuela under preferential payment arrangements. Participating nations say the imitative have been an important social buffered amidst harsher economic realities after the global financial crisis of 2008.
Maduro, who was in Cuba attending the Political Council of the Bolivarian Alliance for the People of Our America-Trade Treaty of the People (ALBA-TCP), earlier this week, is expected to meet with the leaders of the OECS sub-region who are meeting here under the chairmanship of the St. Kitts-Nevis Prime Minister Dr. Timothy Harris.
The OECS Commission in announcing the continuation of  the summit here gave no indication that Maduro, who is facing tremendous opposition at home over his government policies, would meet with the leaders.
It said the summit here would be to conclude discussions on health insurance; strategic options for diplomatic representation; greater participation of non- independent member states; agriculture and support services (regional transport); the blue economy; and climate change and sustainable land management.
The OECS groups the islands of Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St. Lucia, St. Kitts-Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Montserrat, the British Virgin Islands and Anguilla.
The French island of Martinique enjoys associate membership in the sub-regional grouping.

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