Guyana President Donald Ramotar (L) greets the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Palestine, Riad Al Malki
By Ray Chickrie
Caribbean News Now contributor
GEORGETOWN, Guyana -- The minister of foreign affairs of Palestine, Riad Al Malki, this week visited Guyana and Suriname to express his country’s “thanks and appreciation” to these two Caribbean Community (CARICOM) member states for their strong support of an independent Palestinian state.
“My main purpose of this visit is to extend our thanks and appreciation as Palestine, the Palestinian State, the leadership and the Palestinian people to Guyana, the president the people and the government for their strong committed position in support of justice around the world, but also justice in Palestine,” the minister said.
In Suriname on August 21, the Palestinian delegation met the foreign minister of Suriname, Winston Lackin, who said that his government is committed to greater cooperation with Palestine.
Since taking office, President Desi Bouterse of Suriname has brought tremendous changes to the country’s foreign policies. One such change was Suriname joining the rest of Latin America in expressing support for Palestinian national rights and the establishment of a state on 1967 borders.
Lackin said, “Suriname has good relations with both Palestine and Israel and this country serves as a model of peaceful coexistence and harmony of people of different races and faiths.”
Lackin called for cooperation between the private sectors of both countries. He also sought the cooperation of Palestine in the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), and the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB), of which Suriname is a member of both, and cited, for example, project financing as a priority of Suriname.
"Palestine is also a member of the OIC. We will see how they can help in the further development of Suriname,” said the Surinamese foreign minister.
Guyana has long been an active and vocal supporter of the Palestinian liberation struggle dating back to 1966 and even before that, when two of its early leaders, Forbes Burnham and Cheddi Jagan vilified the Israeli occupation and backed the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO). In the 1980s Guyana became a member of the UN Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People.
Guyana became the first CARICOM member to recognize the state of Palestine based on its 1967 borders and supports its full membership of the United Nations. More recently, Guyana established diplomatic relations with Palestine, the first CARICOM member state to do so.
Both countries will soon exchange ambassadors. Guyana’s ambassador to Kuwait, Dr. Odeen Ishmael will soon be appointed ambassador to Palestine according to the Guyana New Agency (GINA).