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Both PM Holness and Secretary Pompeo have given assurances that there is no intention to divide CARICOM

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is denying any attempt to divide CARICOM.

This, as Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness also advised his regional colleagues against creating an artificial divide within the Caribbean Community.

Both men spoke at a press conference in Jamaica this morning, as part of a visit by the US Secretary of State to the island.

T&T Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley joined his Barbadian counterpart Mia Mottley in a boycott of the meeting. PM Mottley led the regional charge against the meeting, in which Mr Pompeo was expected to meet with some regional leaders and not all. She argued it was a move she believed was geared towards dividing the 15-member Caribbean Community.

But at this morning’s press conference, Mr Pompeo said nothing was further from the truth.

“There is no intent from the United States to divide CARICOM, not yesterday, not today, not tomorrow,” Secretary Pompeo asserts. “We want all the countries of this region to prosper and be successful. We know that countries in this region will agree with the United States on certain positions from time to time, and disagree with us from time to time. That’s true for Jamaica as well as for many of the folks that I’ll visit with this afternoon. We want to invite them all to be part of the economic prosperity and security zone that is this region.”

Secretary Pompeo arrived in Jamaica yesterday and was expected to meet seven Caribbean leaders to discuss regional concerns, including Venezuela’s political crisis. Some regional leaders, including Trinidad and Tobago, have resisted calls by the United States to support Juan Guaidó as the legitimate leader of the South American nation.

Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness told this morning’s gathering he would not engage in any action that would divide CARICOM. And he warned his colleagues against creating a false sense of division.

“We are friends with the United States, and we are happy to host them here, not to the exclusion of anyone,” PM Holness said. “And if anyone wanted to attend, they just had to signal. We would have done everything to ensure they could be present.”

He added: “We have significant economic, social and cultural interests, so we should never seek to create an artificial divide. Jamaica’s interest is to unite the region for prosperity, freedom and peace.”

PM Holness said the United States is Jamaica’s friend, and is the country’s largest trading and security partner.

Story by KHAMAL GEORGES