Former Saint Lucia Foreign Minister, Alva Baptiste, has asserted that there was nothing ‘illegal’ about the Prime Minister of Saint Lucia meeting with United States President, Donald Trump.
“There is nothing wrong with the United States having bilaterals with Saint Lucia – this is a normal thing. However, before the meeting, it was very clear what they were going to discuss. I just believe it’s inappropriate,” Baptiste told reporters Tuesday.
He was speaking against the backdrop of Friday’s meeting involving United States President, Donald Trump, Prime Minister, Allen Chastanet, and the leaders of Jamaica, the Bahamas, Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
One of the agenda items for the meeting was Venezuela.
Baptiste observed that one of the objectives of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), is to coordinate foreign and trade policy.
He told reporters that the Chairperson of CARICOM is currently Saint Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister, Doctor Timothy Harris.
“Obviously in any serious discussion with the United States the Chairman would be involved if the United States wanted to engage the Caribbean region,” Baptiste observed.
He said it was obvious that the specific objective of the meeting with Trump was not about engaging the region but the Lima group, which Baptiste said has not recognised Nicolas Maduro as the President of Venezuela, and others who seem to favour action against the South American country.
“I do not believe it was a proper posture to assume being a member of CARICOM – you have a Chairperson; we have clear structures and at some point the Prime Minister of Saint Lucia would have to be Chairman of CARICOM,” the former Saint Lucia Foreign Minister explained.
“If he is Chairman of CARICOM where they coordinate foreign policy, then he would find it inappropriate for a country or a small group of countries to just break away and decide to have their own meeting with third parties on very principled issues,” Baptiste told reporters.
Asked whether Saint Lucia should not have accepted Trump’s invitation, the former foreign minister declared that he was not saying that.
“Let me clarify that. There is nothing wrong – nothing wrong with the United States having bilateral (meetings) with a country or group of countries. There is nothing wrong, but the objective was very clear – Venezuela; China; so obviously these are issues consistent with the Lima group,” Baptiste explained.