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Prime Minister of Dominica, Roosevelt Skerrit; Prime Minister of Barbados, David Thompson; and United States Defense Secretary Robert Gates at yesterday’s press conference


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Help coming!


The United States is re-engaging the Eastern Caribbean region, with the view of working to address the concerns of the illegal drug trade and to tackle regional security challenges.

Speaking to local and international media yesterday morning at the Barbados Hilton, following talks with Government officials of the member states of the Regional Security System (RSS) led by Prime Minister David Thompson, United States Defense Secretary Robert Gates said that the United States is prepared to do more to help the region. He noted that the countries are facing greater challenges due in part to the counter-narcotics initiatives taking place in Mexico.
With that in mind, Gates said that the US had already made a commitment to provide interceptor boats and much needed communication equipment to the RSS member states.

The Caribbean region, he said, could rest assured that the US is there to assist, noting that his visit and the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI) put forward by President Barack Obama are clear indications that the tide is changing.

“I think narco trafficking is a problem for the hemisphere as a whole and wherever you put pressure, the traffickers will go where there is less
resistance [and] where there is less capability. So I think that one of the things we need to think about going forward is how we connect the Regional Security System with the efforts of the French and the Dutch ... how Columbia and Peru are doing it, they are all tied together in many respects,” Gates said.

The CBSI will in the first instance see some US$45 million being allocated in the 2010 fiscal year, with an additional US$70 million to be allocated in 2011. However, the Defence Secretary said that the disbursement of those funds is still to be decided by the technical working groups, one of which had a meeting yesterday.

“The precise allocation will depend on the outcome of these technical talks. We have already talked and made commitments in terms of three interceptor boats and communications equipment, but there were a number of suggestions made this morning in terms of law enforcement training, major crime units and things like that, that we will be exploring in terms of ensuring that the money is allocated in ways that the members of the RSS think is the most effective in terms of meeting their needs,” he said.

Describing the meeting as very productive, Gates added that he was quite impressed by the innovative approaches being taken regarding security, especially the ability of the Caribbean nations to organise limited resources to address their common threats.

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