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Jan 17, 2002

Preparations intensify for Caribbean-C.A. Summit

Preparations are beginning to intensify for next month’s hosting of the CARICOM Heads of Government meeting and concurrent joint summit with the presidents of Central America. Arriving today for meetings with the Foreign Ministry was Secretary General of SICA, the Central American Integration System, Oscar Santamaria, along with a team of SICA and Nicaraguan officials. Nicaragua is the current president of SICA and will co-chair the February fifth joint summit with Belize. Although Belize is a founding member of CARICOM, formed in 1974, our full membership in the Central American Integration System dates only to December of 2000. Prior to that time Belize participated in a growing number of SICA subsidiary organisations, dealing with education, health, tourism, aviation and the environment. While the summit will be a first for the two sub-regions, it remains to be seen what practical benefits closer relations will bring. Central America has a much larger population than CARICOM, shipping and travel routes are not well developed and many of the countries in the two camps are preoccupied with internal concerns. For Belize however, the new forum should at least provide an additional measure of support for a peaceful settlement of the Guatemalan claim.

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