US prez supports Caribbean Security Summit

Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar
Associated Press / Frank Franklin II

United States President Barack Obama has agreed to a Caribbean Security Summit as early as June this year, following regional concerns about the growing number of issues which could affect the region.

The agreement was reached over the week-end following Thursday’s CARICOM-US Summit at the Mona Campus of the University of the West Indies, Jamaica, where Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar made the request for the summit.

She made the disclosure after the agreement was reached on the proposed summit, to be held at a venue to be decided.

Persad-Bissessar, who is the lead prime minister for security submitted to the president, that all parties should evaluate Caribbean and U.S. security.

The T&T PM said the time was now for all parties to “critically review, rethink and reform the approach to collaboration between our region and the U.S.”

The prime minister said there was a clear and present threat which now existed from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and foreign terrorists.

“A number of persons have been identified as leaving CARICOM Member States to become foreign terrorist fighters,” she noted.

Persad-Bissessar pointed out that the war could not be won without shared intelligence.

She said CARICOM was deeply concerned about recent information from the Commander of US Command John Kelly, who spoke of the drawdown of the already decreased naval assets of SouthCom.

“This has come at a time of an increase of the illegal trade in small arms, the region’s daily fight against narco-terrorism, and human trafficking, and the global threat posed by ISIS.

Prime Minister Persad-Bissessar disclosed that regional law enforcement authorities have estimated that as many as 1.6 million guns are circulated in the region.

“This is a significant cause for concern as we are all aware that guns are the most instrumental factor, for the high murder rates in the Caribbean. Approximately 70 percent of murders in CARICOM occur through the use of small arms and lights weapons,” she said.

Persad-Bissessar said in light of this, Trinidad and Tobago, with the endorsement of all CARICOM member states, has offered to host the Secretariat of the Arms Trade Treaty.

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