Barbados’ Prime Minister Freundel Stuart and Mexico’s President Felipe Calderon in a t??te-??-t??te during a recent meeting in Washington. Both men will head their respective delegations to next week’s CARICOM/Mexico Summit here. (C. Pitt/BGIS)

Barbados’ Prime Minister Freundel Stuart has struck an optimistic chord in the lead up to next week’s Second CARICOM/Mexico Summit which comes off here from May 20-21.

His optimism is based on what he termed Mexico’s continuing interest in the development of this region and the spirit of cooperation and increased bilateral relations that have been evident since February 2010, when the inaugural assembly that brought together the group was convened in Mexico.

This is the first time Mr. Stuart is leading the Barbados contingent to the regional summit, that also includes Foreign Minister, Senator Maxine McClean; Minister of the Environment, Dr. Denis Lowe; Tourism Minister, Richard Sealy, and his counterpart in Industry, Denis Kellman; International Business Minister, George Hutson, as well as this country’s Ambassadors to the OAS and CARICOM, John Beale and Robert Morris, respectively.

At the last meeting in Mexico the late Prime Minister, David Thompson, headed the Barbados delegation.

Coming out of that meeting, the Heads of CARICOM and Mexico confirmed their commitment to coping with common challenges, such as climate change, security and the international financial and economic crises, to improve the quality of life of their peoples.

At that time, the leaders also adopted a Climate Change Declaration to confirm their commitment towards reinforcing their cooperation to deal with climate change through joint approaches.

In the declaration, they collectively expressed a determination to strengthen mitigation and adaptation policies with the support of the international community; and called for increased cooperation in the region to achieve understanding and adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change through the establishment of collaborative links between the CARICOM Center for Climate Change and the Government of Mexico.

In relation to this particular matter, Mr. Stuart assured that the grouping was working steadily towards achieving those goals. "Barbados, for its part," he stressed, "as a Small Island Developing State (SIDS) has been diligently pursuing that course of action, as we grapple with the impacts of climate change and its effects on our limited land space and our economy. So too have other CARICOM States."

The Prime Minister said he expected to see the conference place more?? importance on the implementation of decisions, since, as he put it: "There is much more to be done, in terms of the region’s future and our ability to coexist and cooperate in this hemisphere, in striving to achieve common and shared goals, which will be contingent on the final declaration. This is another positive step in building bridges between CARICOM and our Latin American neighbours".

Asserting that Barbados felt honoured to be hosting such a summit at this time, the Prime Minister noted that any realistic decisions adopted at the meeting of Heads could only redound to the benefit of the wider region and its people. He also felt that "holding the summit in Barbados presents a good opportunity to show the famed Barbadian hospitality to our visitors from Mexico and CARICOM."

Next week’s meeting will see Mexican President, Felipe Calderon, visiting Barbados for the first time.

Prime Minister Stuart had prior discussions with him last month in Cartagena, Colombia, during the Summit of the Americas, and also recently in Washington, DC, where Mr. Stuart addressed the International Conservation Caucus Foundation (ICCF) Gala on the topic of "Oceans".

On that occasion, President Calderon was conferred with the Teddy Roosevelt Award for exceptional attention to the environment at a Congressional Gala sponsored by the ICCF. He was also a featured speaker at the event.


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