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PM Gonsalves signs two agreements with the US

PM Gonsalves signs two agreements with the US

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Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves signed two agreements with the United States last Wednesday, April 4, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs conference room.{{more}}

The agreements include the Aerial Intercept Agreement in which the US will provide assistance in locating, tracking and intercepting civilian aircraft, while the other provides US$768,000 in new funding under the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI) to a number of areas to help strengthen this country’s capacity to reduce drug trafficking and increase public safety.

Under the CBSI agreement, US$200,000 has been allocated to law enforcement professionalization; US$343,000 to rule of law and anti-corruption; US$134,000 for the strengthening of counternarcotics control capabilities and US$91,000 to fight against money laundering and other financial crimes.

Since the launch of the CBSI in 2009, the US has committed US$2,468,000 in direct bilateral assistance to this country to assist in the fight against drug trafficking.

According to the prime minister, this country has a common public policy for combating illicit drug trafficking.

“We have been working in many areas in cooperating and fighting against illegal drugs,” Gonsalves explained.

He added that this country’s government had established a very strong regime in fighting illegal drugs and money laundering.

Initiatives include the enactment of anti-money laundering legislation, the establishment of the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) and reform in the police force to better equip officers in crime fighting were just a few mentioned by Gonsalves.

Reforms in the judiciary process were also outlined by the prime minister who said that there were now two High Courts who deal simultaneously with indictable matters and that the number of magistrates has been increased.

“We have improved the court structures across the country,” Gonsalves said, adding that they were now proceeding with the construction of a new Hall of Justice.

The prime minister noted that the CBSI, an initiative of President Barack Obama, was bearing fruit, adding that this country’s Coast Guard was expected to receive two fast interceptor boats and that the US was to assist in the construction of a base on Canouan.

“We cooperate and work very closely with the US government on matters relating to security,” Gonsalves said, adding that both countries may have differences on issues of foreign policy, but they remained allies.

Christopher Sandrolini, Charges d’Affaires at the US Embassy in Bridgetown, Barbados, commended this country, saying that it led the way in the region in cooperation.

He further explained that this country had become the first to become a full member of the Cooperative Censor Integrative Initiative (CCII).

“CCII is an important strategy against counter narcotics by increasing the ability of the countries of the region to work together to share information in real time and to intercept and to prosecute traffickers,” Sandrolini said.

He added that the CBSI agreement had a role beyond that of counter narcotics, but will increase in the number of air and maritime domain awareness and improve capacities in humanitarian assistance, disaster relief and search and rescue.(DD)

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