Above: United States President Barack Obama
By Alexander Britell
United States President Barack Obama will be visiting the Caribbean next month.
In what will be his first visit to the region since 2011, Obama will be making an official visit to Jamaica on April 9.
The visit was announced by Jamaica Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller on Tuesday.
According to Jamaica’s Prime Minister, the visit will include “bilateral discussions on a range of issues of mutual interest.”
The two sides will be joined by a meeting of heads of government of the Caribbean Community “for discussions on issues on the CARICOM-USA agenda, including security and trade,” Simpson Miller’s office said.
“The Government of Jamaica is delighted that President Obama will be visiting Jamaica at this time,” Simpson Miller said. “It will mark the second time since our Independence that a sitting US President will be visiting Jamaica. We view the President’s upcoming visit as an affirmation of the strong ties of friendship and cooperation that have united our two peoples for centuries.”
Obama has visited the region twice during his administration; in 2011 in Puerto Rico and in 2009 at the Summit of the Americas in Port of Spain, Trinidad.
“This enhances Jamaica’s reputation and prestige, for the President of the United States to visit while he is still in office,” said David Rowe, a Jamaican attorney and political commentator. “It also shows that the President has an interest in Jamaica — it’s certainly an historic development.”
Rowe said the move was an indicator of a continued “renewal” of the White House’s interest in the region, one that began with the historic rapprochement with Cuba at the end of last year.
More recently, the White House hosted a high-profile summit covering Caribbean energy security, although Vice President Joe Biden chaired the conference.
Biden himself is a frequent visitor to the Caribbean, particularly St Croix, where he visited earlier this month.
“We are confident that through fruitful dialogue and exchanges during the visit we will succeed in further strengthening the close relations that exist at the bilateral level between Jamaica and the USA, and between the USA and CARICOM,” Simpson Miller said.
Obama’s visit comes ahead of the Summit of the Americas in Panama April 10 to 11.