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Bush Meeting: Barbados, Trinidad Left Out (ICC) (Read 1087 times)
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Bush Meeting: Barbados, Trinidad Left Out (ICC)
Sep 22nd, 2003 at 11:25am
 
Bush Meeting: Barbados, Trinidad Left Out (ICC)

Article; Barbados, Trinidad Left Out - by Tony Best
Date: Sunday, September 21rd, 2003
Source: www.NationNews.com - Barbados Daily Nation


THERE IS no room at the table for Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago
when regional leaders meet for talks with United States President
George Bush in New York on Wednesday.

On the other hand, Grenada, The Bahamas and St Lucia are welcomed to
break bread with the leader of the world's most powerful nation.

Jamaica's leader was unable to accept the invitation, while Guyana's
position remained uncertain.

That picture was painted by senior diplomatic and government sources
in New York, Washington and the Caribbean about 96 hours before Bush
sits down to breakfast in Manhattan with Caricom leaders to ask them
to support America's request that United States soldiers and other
senior officials be exempted from the jurisdiction of the
International Criminal Court.

Barbados and Trinidad have made it clear that they wouldn't grant the
Americans the exemption, while other countries, including the Bahamas
and many OECS states have not staked out a firm position on the
issue.

"This is an unusual method to meet with Caricom leaders," said a
senior Caribbean official. "The White House and State Department have
virtually picked the Caricom delegation by making it clear which
countries they want at the meeting. We would have preferred if the
matter had been handled in a different way, meaning that Caricom
itself had selected its own team.

"But the Bush White House is calling the shots. As far as we
understand it, the ICC is the major item on the agenda. The United
States is seeking support for its position, pure and simple."

Officials said Grenada's Prime Minister, Dr Keith Mitchell, The
Bahamas Prime Minister, Perry Christie, and St Lucia's leader Dr
Kenny Anthony have accepted invitations, while Jamaica's P.J.
Patterson, who is also chairman of Caricom, indicated that he could
not attend because the meeting clashed with his party's annual
conference.

According to highly-placed sources, the White House deliberately left
Barbados and Trinidad off the invitation list because their positions
on the ICC were well known and were not expected to change.

In addition, the Bush regime is said to be "quite angry" with
Bridgetown because of the public statements the Arthur Government
made earlier this year in Parliament in opposition to the United
States invasion of Iraq.

"The anger at Barbados is still a hard fact of life," said an
official.

"The White House wanted Jamaica and its prime minister to be present
but ... he has sent his regrets.

"It's true to say that the countries which were invited to the
breakfast are those which have not yet ratified the ICC treaty," said
a diplomat.

"In Jamaica's case, its position in support of the International
Criminal Court is firm and is well known. But Mr Patterson is the
chairman of Caricom and that's why he was asked. It's that simple.

"As for Barbados, it has taken a position on grounds of principle
that it has to support Trinidad and Tobago, the country that led the
long battle in the international community for the ICC. A
Trinidadian, Karl Hudson-Phillips, is a judge on the ICC. Like
Trinidad, Barbados seems to have taken the position that it is
standing up for what it believes to be right and is prepared to let
the chips fall where they may."

Interestingly enough, diplomats are pointing to the difference
between President Bush and his strongest ally, Britain's Prime
Minister Tony Blair when it came to meeting with leaders who opposed
the United States' position on Iraq. Blair found little, if any
difficulty conferring with Arthur in Bridgetown and later having
dinner at Ilaro Court with the Barbados leader in August.

"It shows the sophistication and maturity of Tony Blair," said one
diplomat.

As for the Bahamas, which operates on the periphery of Caricom, its
government is under tremendous pressure from Washington and Bahamians
to give the United States the exemption it is seeking and the
Christie administration is expected to go along with the Bush
administration.

And Christie jumped at the chance to come to New York and meet the
president.

"The Bahamas has a strange relationship with Caricom," said a
diplomat at the United Nations. "It's part of the region in some
areas, but it stays outside in many sectors as well."[-End]

Link: http://www.nationnews.com/StoryView.cfm?
Record=42454&Section=Local&Current=2003%2D09%2D21%2000%3A00%3A00
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