The air is steamy, and everyone is standing around anxiously. It's but a few moments before the Secretary arrives for her breakfast meeting with the foreign ministers of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), and we've worked hard to get everything prepared for her arrival.
This meeting, held on the margins of the General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OASGA), is an important opportunity for Secretary Clinton to discuss with her counterparts the U.S.-Caribbean Basin Security Initiative. President Obama has requested $45 million from Congress to fund this initiative, which is dedicated to the strengthening of regional security by addressing transnational threats. Trade and development are also on the agenda, as we recognize the link between development and human prosperity.
As we are scurrying around, setting up the final touches, participants start poking their heads in. First, the cameramen start arriving, and then the print journalists. The foreign ministers begin arriving, and their ambassadors. They all know each other well, so they begin mingling. It has the atmosphere of a class reunion, since these ministerials are a chance for all of the foreign ministers to catch up in the same place. The CARICOM foreign ministers meet on a regular basis since so many nations in the Caribbean share similar interests in the fields of security, trade, the economy, and the environment. Tourism is a mainstay of many of the Caribbean economies.
Secretary Clinton sought this meeting with CARICOM because she wanted to build on the positive momentum established at Summit of the Americas when President Obama met with his Caribbean counterparts in April. The Secretary will encourage CARICOM to work with the U.S. Trade Representative to convene a Trade and Investment Council (TIC) meeting later this year. She will also promote increased cooperation between CARICOM and the United States on regional security issues, such as the upcoming Caribbean-U.S. Dialogue on Security Cooperation to be held later this year. Meetings such as these are important because the Secretary can exchange views with delegations on issues of mutual concern, in a frank setting.
All of a sudden, we hear the signal that the Secretary has arrived. We hear her entourage coming up the steps, we're positioned in front of the head table, and are ready for action!