Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : February 22nd 2017 Contents tobagotoday.co.tt February 22 - 2017
ANALYST ON TRUMP, ROWLEY TALKS:
A reflection of T&T's
A political analyst says the call US President Donald
Trump made to Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley on Sun-
day reflects the importance of T&T in the region. How-
ever, a former prime minister says more details on what
the two leaders spoke about should be made public.
Prime Minister Rowley is the first Caribbean leader to
have received a direct call from President Trump but the
Office of the Prime Minister is remaining mum on wheth-
er the two leaders discussed the Foreign Accounts Tax
Compliance Act (FATCA) and immigration issues.
US media had hinted hours before the call was made that
the President intended to call Dr Rowley and Panamanian
President Juan Carlos Varela. According to an Associated
Press (AP) report, the call to Dr Rowley was made at about
4.40 pm on Sunday. The White House said the leaders
discussed shared priorities, while the Prime Minister's office
said in a brief statement that the two leaders acknowledged
the close working relationship between T&T and the US
and committed to strengthening that relationship. They also
committed to working together on security, trade and other
There was no indication from either the White House or
the Office of the Prime Minister that FATCA or immigration
was part of the discussion.
The White House said President Trump invited Dr Row-
ley to visit Washington in the coming months but there
was no mention of that invitation in the release from the
Office of the Prime Minister.
"Why did President Trump call? Was it just a courtesy
call? Is there a special relationship between Trinidad and
Tobago as opposed to say Jamaica?" he asked.
"The Prime Minister's Office should say something, so
that the country could be better informed."
Panday said it was curious that Opposition Leader Kamla
Persad-Bissessar has had no response to her letter to Trump.
He described the letter as "a stupid, senseless act, done for
pure political purposes."
Head of the Political Science Department at UWI Dr
Bishnu Ragoonath said the call by Trump to Dr Rowley was
a reflection of the importance of T&T in the Caribbean.
"It is simply because of our significance in the region,"
Ragoonath agreed that more details of the discussion
should be made public about the immigration issue and
especially on deportation.
Efforts by the T&T Guardian to get more information
from the Office of the Prime Minister were unsuccessful.
In an emailed response the Office of the Prime Minister
said: "No additional information on the conversation between
the two leaders is forthcoming."
Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela, who also got
a call from President Trump on Sunday, has been tweeting
about the phone call and confirmed that they discussed
their "excellent bilateral relationship on economic, security
and regional matters."
Varela said they have agreed to hold talks between high-lev-
el officials ahead of his trip to Washington but gave no
details of the visit.
Trump's calls to Rowley and the Panamanian leader came
on a busy day when he also interviewed candidates for the
post of national security adviser.
He has been calling world leaders since he was sworn in
to office on January 20 and in the past month has spoken
with 28 world leaders, including the Presidents of Mexico,
Argentina and Colombia.
Rowley is the first leader from the Caribbean Trump has
called. However, after the Republican victory in November
then Vice President elect Mike Pence called Jamaica's Prime
Minister Andrew Holness.
The White House said Pence and Holness had a produc-
tive conversation about the close economic co-operation
between Jamaica and the US. Pence expressed appreciation
for the many contributions of Jamaican-Americans to the
US and indicated an interest in visiting Jamaica citing his
"love" of the people.
When President Ronald Reagan took office in 1981, the
first foreign leader he met was former Jamaican Prime
Minister Edward Seaga. That meeting underscored the
region's importance to Reagan who strived to boost Carib-
bean exports through the Caribbean Basin Initiative. Suc-
cessive US presidents have supported exports from the
Soon after taking office in 2008, President Barack Obama
met with Caribbean leaders in T&T at the Summit of the
Americas, assuring them of positive diplomatic and trade
relations with the US. He reiterated this policy in another
meeting with Caribbean leaders in Jamaica in 2015.
There has been no clear policy from Trump on relations
with the Caribbean. On the campaign trail he was vocal on
the issue of protectionism---protecting US companies from
foreign imports by imposing stiff trade tariffs.
Children from Campbell's Preparatory School get ready to play mas in
traditional costumes. The children had fun assisting to make the outfits.
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