ST JOHN’S, Antigua — Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne held bilateral and diplomatic talks with Venezuela’s foreign minister on Tuesday and used the opportunity to talk on ways Antigua and Barbuda and Venezuela could strengthen and deepen their cooperation and diplomatic ties along with possible projects for collaborative implementation.
“The government and people of Antigua and Barbuda stand in solidarity with the government and people of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. We ask you to continue to defend your democracy, and to continue to support the advancement of the people of Venezuela,” Browne stated in his press interview with teleSUR of Venezuela.
The meeting was held as a part of Venezuela’s foreign ministry tour of countries across the region. Venezuela foreign minister, Jorge Arreaza, along with his diplomatic team including resident ambassador Carlos Perez, met with Browne, the minister of foreign affairs Chet Greene and other officials.
In response, Arreaza, said, “The prime minister of Antigua and Barbuda Gaston Browne is a brother of Venezuela and a friend to the people who seek their freedom on the continent and in the world. We have been reviewing the bilateral relationship, of course with a view to the future – new cooperation projects and new plans. We are looking for new ideas for PetroCaribe.”
Though the main focus of the meeting was to find ways of strengthening the relationship between the two countries, Arreaza probed the common Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) position relating to its foreign policy, especially with regard to Venezuela.
At the recently held 65th meeting of OECS Authority, the communiqué noted that “The Authority viewed with alarm the damage that was being caused to the economies of member states as a result of the sanctions imposed on Venezuela.” The communiqué reiterated the need for more dialogue with Venezuela to find a resolution and Browne echoed this call.
Arreaza thanked the Browne administration for its vocal diplomatic support of the Venezuelan government. The foreign minister expressed his government’s gratitude for the position Antigua and Barbuda took in April during the OAS Summit in Peru by withdrawing from the meeting on principle.
Browne, in return, thanked the Venezuelan government for its support of his administration as well. The prime minister expressed his gratitude for the PetroCaribe debt reduction by 50 percent. Browne also thanked the people of Venezuela for being one of the first countries to respond to the crisis Antigua and Barbuda faced after the devastation of Hurricane Irma in September 2017.
During the high-level talks on Tuesday, Venezuela also pledged to assist in the cost to rebuild Barbuda.
The meeting included a number of other pertinent issues such as Antigua and Barbuda’s inclusion in the ALBA Bank. Browne also recommended that ALBA should consider the use of cryptocurrency as opposed to trading in national currencies.
The Venezuelan foreign minister in closing said: “We are very happy to have met, and to give a message from President Nicolas Maduro for their support of Venezuela which in the midst of so many aggression, is always close with their brothers and sisters of ALBA and the Caribbean.”