Barack Obama: “We Have Come to Know Jamaica as a Leader in the Caribbean”

By: Caribbean Journal Staff - August 2, 2012

Above: US President Barack Obama and Ambassador Stephen Vasciannie (Photo: Embassy of Jamiaca)

By the Caribbean Journal staff

United States President Barack Obama praised Jamaica for its commitment to democracy and security following recent talks with Jamaican Ambassador Stephen Vasciannie this week.

Obama was receiving the credentials of Vasciannie as Jamaica’s top diplomat in Washington. the former principal of the Norman Manley Law School is also Jamaica’s Ambassador to the Organization of American States.

“Over the years, we have come to know Jamaica as a leader in the Caribbean,” Obama said. “As one of the largest countries in the Caribbean Community, Jamaica is an indispensable partner in programmes such as the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative and is a leading political voice in the region.”

The Caribbean Basin Security Initiative is now in its third year, and Obama said he was “pleased our Caribbean neighbours have worked closely with us to make it a reality.”

“Jamaica’s contribution to our CBSI discussions have greatly strengthened the counter-narcotics and counter-terrorism components,” he said.

Jamaica will soon celebrate the 50th anniversary of its independence from Britain, and will soon thereafter mark 50 years of diplomatic ties with the United States.

“Our countries have enjoyed a fruitful and cooperative relationship across a broad range of issues, including trade, investment, citizen security and energy security,” he said.

The US President also noted the 1.5 million Americans of Jamaican descent living in the United States, and the “deep” impact of Jamaican culture on American society.

Over 10,000 American citizens also live in Jamaica today, he said, while visitors from the United States account for 64 percent of Jamaica’s tourism market.

Vasciannie said he looked forward to working with the Administration on working to “stem the flow of illegal drugs into the United States and the trafficking of illicit weapons to the region.”

He formally assumed duties in Washington on July 17.

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