Kingston hosting high-level int’l meetings

AT least 18 international delegations are heading to the island next week to participate in a number of high-level meetings.

Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Senator Kamina Johnson Smith made the announcement on Wednesday during the weekly post-Cabinet media briefing.

According to Johnson Smith, Jamaica will play host to the 26th regular meeting of the Caricom Council for Foreign and Community Relations (COFCOR) from May 16-17; the 11th United Kingdom (UK)-Caribbean Forum on May 18; and the inaugural Jamaica-UK Strategic Dialogue on May 19.

“With COFCOR, Jamaica will assume its year-long chairmanship at the 26th regular meeting,” said Johnson Smith who noted that the council consists of ministers responsible for foreign affairs in the 14 independent Caricom member states.

It is the organ of Caricom through which the community pursues closer foreign policy coordination.

“The 26th regular meeting of the COFCOR will engage on coordinating regional positions on issues including candidatures, upcoming summits, ministerial meetings, and bilateral and bi-regional relations with extra-regional partners. The situation in Haiti, multilateral and hemispheric relations in the context of the United Nations, the Organization of American States, the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, and the Association of Caribbean States and climate change [will also be on the agenda].

“The council will also engage with the state minister for foreign affairs of Japan [Takei Shunsuke] and a secretary of state from Spain,” added Johnson Smith.

She noted that this will be the first in-person meeting of COFCOR since 2019.

Johnson Smith also underscored that Jamaica’s chairmanship, which is for a period of one year, coincides with the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the establishment of Caricom.

Turning to the UK-Caribbean Forum, Johnson Smith said in addition to promoting enhanced relations among Caricom member states, the chair of COFCOR is responsible for coordinating the community’s positions on relations with states outside of Caricom.

“Therefore, in its capacity as COFCOR chair, Jamaica will also assume co-chairmanship, with the United Kingdom, of the 11th UK-Caribbean Forum. We will welcome [UK’s Foreign Secretary] James Cleverly to co-chair this meeting,” said Johnson Smith.

She pointed out that the forum is the foremost mechanism for political consultation between the United Kingdom and the member states of CARIFORUM (Caricom and the Dominican Republic). Furthermore, the forum traditionally invites the participation of Cuba, in an observer capacity.

“The 11th UK-Caribbean Forum will provide an opportunity to take stock of progress in the implementation of the 10th UK-Caribbean Forum Action Plan, and advance discussions on deeper cooperation in areas, including trade and investment; financing for development; climate change and environment; immigration and Windrush; food security; health; education; and the situation in Haiti,” said Johnson Smith.

The meeting will also deliberate on a formal mechanism for consultation and cooperation between Caricom member states and the UK.

This will be the first in-person staging of the UK-Caribbean Forum since the ninth forum was held in 2016.

Johnson Smith told the post-Cabinet media briefing that Jamaica’s chairmanship of these meetings affords the country a unique opportunity to advance national and regional strategic priorities.

“We are confident that Jamaica’s hosting of these three meetings will hold positive benefits for Jamaica and the region and will raise the profile of both Jamaica and Caricom,” declared Johnson Smith.