U.S. pledges additional support for region

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has promised the Caribbean will receive US$170 million in aid, in addition to the funds already pledged earlier this year.

She made the announcement after what she said was a “fruitful” meeting with leaders and foreign ministers from the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Dominican Republic last Sunday in Barbados.

“The United States is committing US$162 million this year to HIV/AIDS programs in the Caribbean. It is still a regrettable fact that the leading cause of death of young adults in the Caribbean is AIDS, striking and taking them from us at the height of their productivity, at the beginning of their family lives, and we are committed to working with you to address that.

“We will also be providing on another one of our shared objectives US$8 million for climate and energy programs and supporting innovative solutions through the climate and energy partnership with the Americas,” said Clinton.

The money is added to a total US$124 million pledged under the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative for this year and 2011.

There had been concerns that the focus of the U.S. on domestic and other international issues had weakened its interest in the region. However, Clinton said that her country was “back and committed”.

“We are back 100 per cent. We are looking for solutions to common problems and we are also looking to listen. I came here to listen as much as to express our hopes and our plans and I am very grateful for the positive response and the agreement on what we are calling the Bridgetown Commitment,” said Clinton.

In the “Bridgetown Commitment: Partnership for Prosperity and Security”, the ministers pledged to strengthen cooperation in responding to common challenges, in a spirit of partnership and mutual respect. The specific areas of cooperation are energy, security and climate change, health and trade relations.

Two CARICOM leaders — Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer and Dominica Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit, who is also the grouping’s chairman — attended the meeting.

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