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MANNING: Integration movement moving at advanced pace

MANNING: Integration movement moving at advanced pace

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As if symbolizing peace and love, the18th Inter-Sessional Meeting of the CARICOM ended on Valentines Day at the Methodist Church Hall in Kingstown, with assurances from Prime Minister Patrick Manning that the integration movement was not only “alive and well” but was also “moving at an advanced pace.”

Manning, who is also the Chairman of Regional Security, noted that Caricom must ensure that the Caribbean remains a peaceful place to live although like any other region, it faces the challenge of curbing criminal activity.{{more}}

He said that the Caribbean was progressing significantly in the area of security and noted that there was greater intelligence gathering among the territories.

Manning stressed that with the hosting of the Cricket World Cup 2007 in March, the Caribbean can no longer distance itself from the real issues such as terrorism.

Explaining, he said, “there is a large influx of visitors expected from different parts of the world and some are on the international watch list and in the context of the international terrorism we have to accept the fact that the Caribbean is no longer an innocent bystander in these matters.”

The Regional Security Minister also noted that there were people “bent on ill intents” and that the Caribbean had to take “protective action.”

Answering a question from a journalist in the closing press conference on if there was any Al Queda connection in Trinidad and Tobago, Manning answered, “The one thing we know is that specific questions on security, in the interest of security, can never be answered.”

Pressing towards the vision of a unified Caribbean, Prime Minister Owen Arthur who is the Chairman of the committee on the Single Market and Economy said that the arrangements of the entity must not only be “free” to all but must also be “fair.” The Conference adopted a paper entitled “Towards a Single Economy and a Single Development Vision”, as the framework for the further elaboration of the Single Economy.

Arthur said issues such as the environment, social development and governance were also outlined in the document which intelligently indicates how Caricom is going to meet deadlines and how, when and why it would become a single market and economy. Arthur said that the document had the input of not only Caricom, but also the University of the West Indies and the private sector, which he pointed out was crucial if the single economy would materialise as intended.

Both leaders praised Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines Dr Ralph Gonsalves for chairing the event in an efficient yet humorous manner, which they said made the business affairs of CARICOM pleasant.

Caricom Secretary General Edwin Carrington was elected to hold the post for another five years effective August 1 2007, while Richard Bernal would serve as Director General of the Caribbean Regional Negotiating Machinery for a further two years.

Barbados will host the 28th Caricom Regular Meeting from July 1-4.

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