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CARICOM pleased with outcomes of UK-Caribbean forum

GEORGETOWN, Guyana – Caribbean and U.K. Foreign Ministers on Sunday said they were satisfied with their two-day meeting that produced a 31-point Plan of Action based on intense and frank discussions.

“It is not about talking about talk, but acting on talk…” Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretary-General, Irwin LaRocque said at a media briefing of the Action Plan at the end of the talks in Grenada.

Three CARICOM heads of government, several Ministers of Security and a several representatives from the U.K. and Caribbean private sectors attended the Forum, the seventh such gathering, which was held under the theme “Sustainable Growth towards Prosperity”.

According to the CARICOM statement, LaRocque noted that the Forum was not just about policy but had spawned tangible actions to benefit the peoples of both regions.

LaRocque’s sentiments resonated with the co-Chair of the Forum the Sam Condor, foreign minister for St Kitts and Nevis and chair of the CARICOM Council for Foreign and Community Relations (COFCOR).

Condor stressed the importance attached to the Forum by the United Kingdom and thanked the delegation, led by the Foreign Secretary William Hague, for their expressed willingness to revitalize the forum and strengthen relations with the Caribbean.

According to Condor, the conference revitalized the partnership between the two regions as was reflected in the outcome document. He pointed to key issues related to economic resilience, climate change and security that were treated comprehensively during the meeting and expressed satisfaction with outcomes in those areas.

He further added that the issue of the U.K. Air Passenger Duty (APD) was discussed and that the United Kingdom had given a commitment to continue dialogue on the matter. He was hopeful that there would be some adjustments made to the method used to apply the tax to make it less discriminatory against the Caribbean.

Grenada’s Foreign Minister Karl Hood, who said future partnership with the United Kingdom would definitely be more robust, endorsed Condor’s sentiments.

Hood, who hosted the Forum also applauded the Caribbean High Commissioners in London who he said worked diligently with the Caribbean team at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and with the CARICOM Secretariat during the last two years to ensure that Forum was realized.

Jeremy Browne Minister of State in the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office described the two-day political dialogue as fruitful. He said that the Forum provided a framework for continuing activities with the High Commissioners in London.

According to Browne, the Plan of Action was a testimony to the positive affirmation of the strong ties between the United Kingdom and the Caribbean that could only enhance the quality of life of the people of both regions.

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