Bruce shuns Bush? - PM denies requests to talk with US president

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Bruce shuns Bush? - PM denies requests to talk with US president

Post by RedAlert on Wed May 28, 2008 12:15 pm

Bruce shuns Bush? - PM denies requests to talk with US president
published: Wednesday | May 28, 2008

Arthur Hall, Senior Staff Reporter


Golding ... jetted to at least four countries on official business since September.

Prime Minister Bruce Golding has turned down two invitations to have face-to-face talks with United States President George W. Bush.

This has sparked concern of a possible rift in the relationship between Jamaica House and the White House, particularly as Golding has jetted off to Havana, Cuba; Lima, Peru, and London, England, since declining the invitations to meet Bush.

Date not acceptable

The Gleaner has confirmed that Bush invited Golding to talks in early March and was told by Kingston that the date was not acceptable.

The White House responded with a new date but again, Jamaica House said Golding would not be able to make it.

Bush instead met with the prime ministers of Barbados, The Bahamas and Belize in Washington, DC, on March 20.

Coming out of that meeting, Prime Minister of The Bahamas, Hubert Ingraham, told reporters that the leaders discussed several issues of concern, including a desire to extend the Caribbean Basin Initiative Act, which expires in September.

Ingraham added that the leaders talked about tourism, the impact that the current increase in the price of oil is having on travel, security and democracy.

Bush will demit office in January, following the November presidential elections.

Yesterday, Golding defended his decision to not attend the proposed meeting with Bush.

Conflicted with Budget

He told The Gleaner the dates suggested by the White House conflicted with the preparation of the 2008-2009 Budget and, especially, the intense discussions that had to take place regarding its financing.

"This was one of the most difficult budget exercises that any government has had to grapple with, given the global inflation and the fact that a new wage package for public sector workers had become due," Golding said.

The prime minister said he had already committed to attending the CARICOM Heads of Government Meeting in The Bahamas to report on the economic partnership agreement (EPA) negotiations with Europe.

Golding also sought to allay fears that this would impact on the relationship between Jamaica and the United States.

"I am sure that the US government understands the particular difficulty we faced. JLP governments have always enjoyed excellent relations with the United States and this continues to be so," he added.

It was a similar story from the United States Embassy in Kingston, which said the relationship between the two countries remains firm.

Public Affairs Officer at the Embassy, Pat Attkisson, told The Gleaner she was not aware of a strained relationship.

"Every country has the right to make its own decisions and the US respects that," Attkisson said.

She said the US has not reduced its economic or other support for Jamaica.

But diplomatic sources say Golding's decision to have talks with president Raъl Castro in Cuba and his subsequent vocal support for the lifting of the US embargo on that country before meeting with Bush could be seen as disrespectful to the president of the superpower, which remains, Jamaica's largest trading partner.

Felt slighted


Bush ... demits office as US president next January.

A former diplomat, who requested that his name be withheld, told The Gleaner that while Washington would not openly condemn Golding's decision, it would take action to show it has felt slighted.

Opposition Spokesman on Foreign Affairs Anthony Hylton agreed that Golding's decision could affect the relationship between the US and Jamaica.

He, however, argued the prime minister had the right to determine the timing of his visit to any world leader.

"The prime minister has to make his own assessment, but the US remains an important player in world affairs and a friend of Jamaica," Hylton said.

He added that he hoped the two leaders would meet and that Golding's decisions would not cause any fallout.

arthur.hall@gleanerjm.com



Golding's trips since September

April 2008

Golding leads a delegation to Trinidad and Tobago.

May 4-7

Leads a delegation on a four-day tour to Cuba.

May 15-17

Attends fifth European Union/Latin American and the Caribbean Summit in Lima, Peru.

May 18-24

Headed from Peru to England for four-city tour meetings with members of the diaspora.

http://www.jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20080528/lead/lead1.html

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Re: Bruce shuns Bush? - PM denies requests to talk with US president

Post by RedAlert on Wed May 28, 2008 12:16 pm

Bruce is da boss

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