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April 24, 1998

A high level meeting between the Organization of American States (OAS) and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) secretariats ended in Washington today amidst optimism about future cooperation on the keys issues of trade, sustainable development, security and promotion of democracy.

The meeting, the second time that experts and officials were gathering at a high level, was called to review the status of cooperation programs and also to discuss how and where cooperation is moved ahead.

A CARICOM delegation headed by Secretary-General Edwin Carrington arrived at the OAS headquarters yesterday for a series of technical meetings to discuss OAS-CARICOM cooperation. At the closing, the OAS assistant Secretary General, Ambassador Christopher R. Thomas, hailed the two-day meeting as fruitful. "We are witnessing a convergence of multiple factors which make managing of the synergy of their confluence as well as the circumstances of their unfolding very crucial for the future well-being of our peoples."

The CARICOM chief was equally upbeat as the curtains came down on the meetings which he described as long overdue. Trade facilitation, sustainable development, good governance and democracy, culture, human resource development were areas he highlighted as set for intensified joint effort. "Our region, CARICOM, continues to give priority to fellowships, training and technical assistance as we seek to develop our human resources to enable us to handle these various matters which are critical for our region."

Out of the recommendations emerging from the two-day gathering that opened yesterday are an emphasis on tourism, with cooperation to center, among others, on education and training, support to small hotels, tourism awareness, language training and promoting sustainable tourism.

Trade is also prominent in the cooperation package which promises continued collaboration on trade-related assistance to the smaller Caribbean economies, exchange of trade-related information, and regional seminars designed to train government officials on multilateral and regional trade issues. Security issues for small island states of the Caribbean also feature.

Follow-up to the meeting will involve experts from both secretariats who will refine what was advanced over the past two days.

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