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SVG signs shiprider agreement

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The Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines signed a shiprider agreement this week that makes it easy for the United States to board any vessel which carries the St.Vincent and the Grenadines flag and is suspected of carrying Weapons of Mass Destruction, their delivery systems, and related materials.{{more}}

This was done at an official ceremony held at Cabinet Room on Tuesday, May 11, 2010.

Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves signed on behalf of the Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, while Dr. Brent Hardt, Charge d’Affaires ad interim at the U.S. Embassy to Barbados, signed on behalf of the Government of the United States.

“Our flag is a very well respected flag internationally and we want to make sure that the users of our flag continue to hold our flag in very great respect and regard. And, of course, we want to cooperate with all countries in the world against the movement of Weapons of Mass Destruction and their systems and materials,” said Gonsalves.

This agreement, said Gonsalves, goes in sync with other partnerships on drugs, issues of money laundering, trafficking of persons,etc.

Gonsalves noted prior to his administration taking office it took approximately 10 days for permission to be granted to the United States to board vessels registered in St.Vincent and the Grenadines and carrying the country’s flag. He said under his tenure, local authorities grant permission immediately.

The agreement was formulated by incorporating elements of international law.

Gonsalves proudly stated that St.Vincent and the Grenadines enjoys excellent relations with the United States. He, however,, noted both countries will have differences of opinion in some areas but that does not shake the “bedrock” of the country’s relationship.

“I want the general public to realise that while we have the deepening of social and economic relations, trading relations with lots of other countries which are near to us that we are very much interested in deepening our security relationships with the United States of America,” said Gonsalves, adding the same policy stands for the United Kingdom.

Gonsalves stated that shortly after the invasion of Iraq, it appeared that the United States had retreated on some security issues, but he is happy the issue had come to an end and there were advances in the cooperation. At the Summit of the Americas, President Barack Obama of the United States of America had initially announced that his country would give a US$30 million to the Caribbean. This figure was subsequently increased to US$45 million.

At Tuesday’s ceremony, it was also announced that the United States is also assisting St.Vincent and the Grenadines with some of its Coast Guard vessels. Besides retrofitting vessels that make up the Coast Guard’s fleet, the US Government in 2011 will grant the state two interceptor vessels.

Hardt, in his presentation, was delighted to state the Obama administration is determined to re-engage with the Caribbean region.

He expressed that although his government is determined to engage the region on security issues, it is also desirous in partnering on economic issues, energy, climate change issues, health and HIV/AIDS.

Hardt said the agreement, which comprised of 19 articles, is a critical element in the US’s quest to prevent the spread of WMD and missiles that might deliver them.(HN)