After closely following Jamaican Prime Minister Golding's public statements and policy positions for almost two years as the Desk Officer for Jamaica at the U.S. Department of State, I looked forward to finally seeing him in person. Prime Minister Golding came to Washington, D.C., last week to speak with major international financial institutions and to give a keynote address at the International Forum on Caribbean Investment and Development.
On June 6, I had the opportunity to meet Prime Minister Golding during his bilateral meeting with Secretary Clinton. I arrived at the meeting room with the senior members of the U.S. delegation early so we could welcome the Jamaican delegation when they arrived. There was just enough time to peek inside the room and spot my seat -- the one at the far end of the table marked for the notetaker.
Minutes later, Prime Minister Golding emerged from the elevator, along with Department of State protocol staff, members of the Jamaican delegation, and the ever-present security detail. U.S. Ambassador to Jamaica Pamela Bridgewater, the Prime Minister, and members of his staff exchanged greetings as though they were long-time friends. Ambassador Bridgewater knows Jamaica well after serving there previously in her career, and she is famously gracious and welcoming. She also spoke with Audrey Marks, the sophisticated businesswoman who serves as Jamaica's Ambassador to the United States. The Prime Minister exchanged pleasantries with the U.S. delegation and updated us on the heavy rains that had been pounding Jamaica continuously that week. Secretary Clinton then warmly welcomed the Prime Minister and his delegation.
My intense focus on the discussions, and a healthy dose of adrenaline, made time sprint by. As the Secretary and the Prime Minister discussed recovery assistance to Haiti, I felt how important the welfare of Haiti and its people is to both leaders. The Secretary complimented Jamaica for its improved security landscape, and the two discussed U.S.-Jamaican cooperation on citizen safety. The discussion moved easily to cover a range of issues from energy to economic development, reflecting our broad-based relationship with Jamaica. As one of the largest Caribbean nations, Jamaica is a key partner in addressing our mutual security concerns, including combating drug trafficking and international crime organizations. Trade, tourism, and migration account for much of the solid bilateral relationship with our country, with environmental and energy issues taking a greater role in recent years. Both countries also have close cultural ties that we continue to enhance through cultural and educational exchanges.
The amiable rapport between the Secretary and the Prime Minister reflected our bilateral relations with Jamaica. Both seemed very much at ease and interested in each other's thoughts on our shared challenges. From my conversations with the other members of the U.S. delegation and our Jamaican counterparts, I concluded that both sides walked away from the meeting pleased with our current relationship and optimistic about future collaboration. As I said good bye to the Jamaican Embassy's Deputy Chief of Mission, I knew that we would be working even closer together over the next few weeks on items discussed during the meeting.
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