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PM: Diplomatic presence needed in Africa

The time has come for Barbados to establish a diplomatic presence in Africa.

Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, while announcing that Argentina was re-establishing an embassy here more than 20 years after closing the previous one, said there should be a serious look at the possibility of such relations with the African continent, specifically Ghana.

And as he also made it clear the island’s embassy in Caracas, Venezuela was staying put, the Prime Minister said having embassies elsewhere in South and Central America, would also have to be explored.

The St. Michael South MP was speaking in the House of Assembly this morning as Parliamentarians debated and approved a half million dollar supplementary resolution, $173,500 of which was for the purchase of two replacement boilers at the building housing Barbados’ embassy in the United Kingdom.

Stuart thought it was time for the island to have a diplomatic presence on the African continent.

“Forty six years after Independence there can really be no serious justification for Barbados not having some kind of presence on the African continent. I am aware that … other CARICOM countries have a diplomatic presence in South Africa in Pretoria, that is a matter of choice and I do not underestimate the importance of having a diplomatic presence in South Africa,” he said.

“But I think that Barbados has a natural relationship with Ghana as well and that we have to look seriously at where we will locate ourselves on the African continent.” He was happy that Argentina was returning to Barbados with an embassy. That country closed its embassy here after its Dr. Dante Caputo defeated Barbadian Dame Nita Barrow in the contest for the presidency of the United Nations General Assembly in 1988.

“I am pleased to say that we have recently been notified by Argentina that it is re-opening its embassy here in Barbados and we think that that is a significant development and can only conduce to the deepening of the relationship between the two countries,” the official disclosed.

Having opened an embassy in Brazil, he also said that part of the world had other opportunities available, which would be examined.

“I know that there are some who feel that we should not be in Caracas anymore, I don’t share that view. I think the relationship Barbados has with Venezuela is a highly prized relationship, a precious relationship and I think Barbados can only benefit from staying in Caracas,” Stuart said.

“But we have to look at the entire South American continent and of course Central America and see where else we need to locate ourselves to appropriate some of the benefits coming out of that continent, a continent which of course is also on the rise and on the march economically.”

Stuart said Government had to “monitor very carefully what is happening in the world and make sure that Barbados’ foreign policy reflects reality and does not reflect impractical ideals or fictional preoccupations”. (SC)

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