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Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Ambassador Douglas Saunders has lauded the special relationship and co-operation shared between Jamaica and Cuba over the years.
“The two countries have gained significantly from the Jamaica/Cuba bilateral collaboration. Through this partnership, Jamaica has benefited from co-operation in the areas of science, medicine, nursing, agriculture, biotechnology, tourism, vocational and tertiary training, maritime transportation, to name a few,” he noted.
Ambassador Saunders was speaking at the opening of the Fourth Meeting of the Jamaica/Cuba Development Co-operation Commission in Kingston on May 25.
The Permanent Secretary pointed out that co-operation was not only at the bilateral level, but also regionally, “as there is active collaboration between CARICOM and Cuba, and through our common participation in the Association of Caribbean States”.
Ambassador Saunders said the first CARICOM/Cuba Ministerial Meeting held in July 2004, resulted in Cuba extending a proposal it had made in 2001, for co-operation in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
“The Cuban government has offered to establish an HIV/AIDS training facility in each CARICOM country, specializing in rendering comprehensive care for HIV/AIDS patients, to provide post graduate training in this area for the region’s human resources, to provide experts and professionals to give technical advice and assistance in support of national programmes to combat the epidemic, to make available to the region, generic anti-retroviral drugs, and to supply the equipment and diagnostic kits produced by Cuba to set up Ultra-Micro Analytic System (SUMA) laboratories,” he noted.
The Permanent Secretary welcomed the Cuban delegation and expressed optimism that the two-day meeting would help to further deepen ties of friendship and co-operation between both countries.
In his remarks, Raul Taladrid Suarez, Vice Minister, Ministry of Foreign Investment and Economic Collaboration in Cuba, said that the Co-operation Commission was very significant in the development and identification of new areas of co-operation between the two countries.
He noted that the presence of a Cuban medical mission in Jamaica was evidence of the strong historical co-operation between the two countries.
The Vice Minister emphasized that HIV/AIDS, and the management of natural disasters were “priority areas” in which Cuba would offer assistance, both regionally and bilaterally.
During the meeting, the Commission will review a range of co-operation programmes and identify new ones.