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PM off to Europe, Middle East

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Airport funding, educational scholarships and tourism investments will be the main focus of Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves’ first overseas trip outside the region for the year.{{more}}

He embarked on a whirlwind two-week European and Middle Eastern trip last Monday, in which his first stop was scheduled to be the Portuguese island of Madeira.

The Prime Minister will also hold talks with Portuguese officials in Lisbon, after which he will travel to Rome and Iran. He will then stop off for meetings in London before returning to St. Vincent and the Grenadines at the end of the month.

Gonsalves said that during his visit to Madeira and Lisbon, he will hold meetings with potential investors and hopes to attract hotel investors to St Vincent and the Grenadines.

He is also hoping to bring back word of scholarship opportunities in Portugal along with any other State-to-State assistance that can be procured.

Meanwhile in Iran, the Prime Minister will follow-up on agreements that were reached when the two countries established diplomatic relations last year.

High on that list was Iran’s pledge to promptly explore “ways in which it can offer support to the construction of the International Airport at Argyle.”

Dr Gonsalves, who will be met in Iran by this country’s non-resident Ambassador to the controversial Middle Eastern state, Dexter Rose, will discuss the extent of this support and will also explore the possibility of securing scholarships.

The Chairman of the International Airport Development Company, Dr Rudy Matthias will accompany Dr Gonsalves on this trip.

Vice President of the Christian Council, Methodist Minister Rev Victor Job, will also accompany the Prime Minister on part of the trip.

The Prime Minister, whose wife Eloise is making the trip with him, used the opportunity to clear any misconception that may arrive from the fact that his thirteen-year-old daughter Soleil and his mother-in-law will also be accompanying him on the Rome leg of the trip.

“For us to avoid anybody getting into any difficulties, I want to say again, all expenses in relation to my mother-in-law and my daughter, they will not be borne by the state,” he said.

A court last year awarded Dr Gonsalves close to half a million dollars, which is to be paid by New Democratic Party radio host Elwardo Lynch and the parent company for Nice radio, BDS Limited.

The award stemmed from a lawsuit that Gonsalves filed after Lynch incorrectly said that he used government funds to pay travel and or accommodation costs for his mother and daughter, during his visit to Rome in 2002, where he had an audience with the late Pope John Paul II.(KJ)















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