Basseterre, St. Kitts, November 23, 2015 (SKNIS): St. Kitts and Nevis and Columbia are taking steps to improve the bilateral relationship between the two countries as demonstrated by a meeting held at Government Headquarters between a four member Columbian delegation, representatives from the local Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Permanent Secretaries within the public service.

The meeting was chaired by Senior Foreign Service Officer, Nerys Dockery who informed the Columbian officials that much value is placed on the relationship between the two countries and there is a keen interest in advancing the agenda of corporation between the two.

The Columbian team was headed by Deputy Minister in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Madam Patti Lodoño and included Director of the Americas, Patricia Cortes and Director of Integration, Ministry of Trade and Tourism, Andres de la Cadena.

Mrs. Dockery acknowledged Columbia as one of the fastest growing countries in Latin America and congratulated the Columbian government and His Excellency President Juan Manuel Santos for expanding trade investment and economic links by beginning the process to become members of the Organisation for Economic Corporation and Development (OECD) and the Asia Pacific Economic Corporation Organisation (APEC).

“It is our hope that as you join these imminent organisations that the agenda that St. Kitts and Nevis represents, in terms of the SIDS [Small Island Developing States] agenda you will be a definite, friend and partner and ally in promoting our interests within these organisations.”

Mrs. Dockery further noted that St. Kitts and Nevis currently engages with Columbia on a regular basis in various multi-lateral fora including the United Nations, Community of Latin America and Caribbean States (CELAC), Organisation of American States (OAS) and Association of Caribbean States (ACS.)

“In these fora, there is lots of scope for cooperation on political matters as relates to the current challenges that we commonly face and that can only be addressed together, such as Climate Change, promoting the post 2015 Development Goals, the 2030 Agenda.  We also have the Samoa Pathway that feeds into this. And so there are many different ways and so there are many different ways so that we can cooperate on this level as well.”

Her Excellency Madam Lodoño said that her delegation was honoured and happy to engage with St. Kitts and Nevis.  She explained that St. Kitts and Nevis and the Caribbean region as a whole is a priority area for Columbia, so much so, that it was written in her country’s constitution.

“We had a lot of internal issues so we know that some of the big countries in Latin America have been here before us.  We have always had a lot of interest and you have seen Columbia present through the multi-lateral organisations always in support of St. Kitts and in support of the Caribbean initiatives, so we remain really committed.”

She further noted some of the specific areas of cooperation.

“One of the things that we are very much interested in how it can promote as to raise the standards in so many levels of good governance.  So we have been with the road map process for like two years, we know that it might take like three more years, because Chile took 10 years, to complete the accession process so, we’ll see how it goes but it has really helped us in so many ways.”

The local government officials included Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Charleton Edwards, Ministry of Environment Senior Environmental Officer, June Hughes and Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism, Carlene Henry-Morton.

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