The government of Prime Minister Gaston Browne said on Wednesday that it has withdrawn the country’s participation in the second preparatory meeting for the Summit of the Americas, scheduled to be held in Lima, Peru in April.
An Antigua and Barbuda government statement, issued in Washington, D.C., said Sir Ronald Sanders, Antigua and Barbuda’s Ambassador to the Organization of American States (OAS), which is responsible for the preparation of the meeting, said Antigua and Barbuda withdrew from the meeting “on a point of fundamental principle.”
Sir Ronald noted that, “at the meeting, the government of Venezuela was excluded from participation without any prior explanation or discussion by the member-states of the OAS at any level,” the statement said.
“Venezuela’s exclusion from the second preparatory meeting was curious because it had been a full and constructive participant in the first meeting a few weeks ago,” Sir Ronald said.
The only reason given for Venezuela’s exclusion was that Peru, the host country for the summit, had decided that Venezuela should not be allowed to participate, the statement said.
“While the host country traditionally has been able to invite attendance by a high representative of a county that is not a member state, it is not acceptable to reject a sitting member-state of the organization which plans and executes the meeting,” Ambassador Sanders said.
“I want to make it clear that our stand is on behalf of all member states, not Venezuela alone,” he added. “If this is allowed to occur, then any member state of the OAS could be excluded from a Summit meeting or a general assembly meeting at the sole behest of the host country.”
Antigua and Barbuda’s Deputy Head of Mission to the OAS, Joy-Dee Davis, also said: “Antigua and Barbuda does not know of, nor has it participated in, any official decision of the Summit of the Americas, the OAS General Assembly, the Meeting of Consultation of Foreign Affairs or of the Permanent Council to disenfranchise any active Member State from these meetings.
“We find this precedent of unilateral exclusion appalling and unacceptable,” she added.
Therefore, the statement said, “on that basis and until this situation is rectified, Antigua and Barbuda regrets that it cannot participate in the meeting.”