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Biden in Trinidad on LatAm, Caribbean swing

28 may 2013, 12:02
0
US Vice President Joe Biden (R) and his wife Jill. ©AFP
US Vice President Joe Biden (R) and his wife Jill. ©AFP
US Vice President Joe Biden arrived in Trinidad and Tobago Monday where he was to meet with other regional leaders on his 20-hour visit to the island nation, AFP reports.

The US Vice President and his wife Dr. Jill Biden arrived at the Piarco International Airport at 8:25pm on Monday along with an entourage of 150 people.

Biden was greeted by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, Attorney General Anand Ramlaogan and members of her Cabinet. He saluted an Honour Guard following his departure of the US Air Force 2.

Persad-Bissessar will hold talks with Biden and Caribbean basin regional leaders, including President of the Dominican Republic, Danilo Medina Sanchez, at a major meeting at the Diplomatic Centre in St Ann's.

The talks with Biden will cover regional security, trade, energy and human and social development, and a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) between Caricom and the United States will be signed.

Among the regional leaders for the mini-summit are: President of Haiti and current Caricom chairman Michel Joseph Martelly; and President of Guyana Donald Ramotar.

They will be joined by Bahamas Prime Minister Perry Christie; Grenada Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell; Prime Minister of St Kitts/Nevis Dr Denzil Douglas; St Vincent Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves and Deputy Prime Minister of St Lucia Philip Pierre, representing Prime Minister Dr Kenny Anthony who is attending a meeting in Cuba.

Earlier Monday, during a visit to Colombia, Biden said US support for Colombia's peace process with Marxist rebels remained solid, after talks in Bogota with President Juan Manuel Santos.

"I made it clear to President Santos that the United States strongly supports his efforts to achieve historic peace with the FARC," Biden told reporters in Bogota. "Just as we supported Colombia's leaders on the battlefield, we fully support you at the negotiating table, Mr President."

US support has been anything but minor: since 2000, Washington has poured more than $8 billion into military aid, training and technology to try to help Bogota stamp out Latin America's longest-running insurgency.

Colombia, Washington's closest ally in South America, has a free trade deal with the United States as well.

Biden had arrived in Colombia on Sunday at the start of a six-day tour also including Trinidad and Tobago, and then Brazil.

The visit -- Biden's fourth to the region since becoming vice president in January 2009 -- will see him discuss bilateral, regional and global issues with key leaders.

It also comes just days before Chinese President Xi Jinping plans to travel to Mexico, Costa Rica and Trinidad and Tobago on his way to a summit with US President Barack Obama on June 7-8 in Rancho Mirage, California.

Biden landed in Bogota just hours after the government and leftist FARC rebels announced they had reached a deal on land reform, one of the most contentious items in negotiations aimed at ending five decades of insurgency.

On Wednesday, Biden will deliver a speech in Rio de Janeiro showcasing Brazil as a strategic US partner, and meet with Brazilian business and community leaders.

Those meetings will include a tour of a site managed by the semi-public Brazilian oil giant Petrobras.

Biden will also meet with President Dilma Rousseff and Brazil's vice president to "discuss ways to deepen our economic and commercial partnership," the White House has said.

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