| 13 April 2024, Saturday |

US top diplomat Blinken to discuss Haiti crises with country’s premier

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will meet with Prime Minister Ariel Henry to discuss the political, security, and humanitarian challenges in Haiti next week, a State Department official said on Friday.

The State Department announced that Blinken will visit Trinidad & Tobago and Guyana on July 5 and 6, respectively. Blinken will meet with Henry in Trinidad and Tobago, where he assumed leadership in July 2021, just days after President Jovenel Moise was assassinated.

Blinken would discuss a range of priorities on the Caribbean trip, including food and energy security, climate resilience, regional security and migration management, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Caribbean Affairs and Haiti, Barbara Feinstein, told reporters.

Blinken will attend the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) heads of government meeting and its 50th anniversary celebration in Trinidad and Tobago.

“The Secretary will urge Prime Minister Henry to work urgently with Haitian stakeholders to enlarge the political consensus and fashion a political path forward that returns Haiti to democratic order,” Feinstein said.

Blinken will also reaffirm U.S. support for the Haitian National Police and for the deployment of a multinational force and/or peacekeeping operations.

“With regard to a multinational force, it remains the United States’ position that that is critical, that we ought to respond as a global community to the Haitian people’s call for enhanced security assistance given the untenable situation on the ground,” Feinstein said.

Several Caribbean leaders have spoken up in support of a multinational force, she said, and Blinken looked forward to a broader conversation with the leaders, including Henry.

Since last year, Henry has called for an international force to rein in gangs that control large parts of the country, fueling a humanitarian crisis that has displaced tens of thousands.

The United States has pushed Canada to take a leading role, but countries have been wary of sending troops in support of the unelected government of Henry, who has in turn said security must be established to hold credible elections.

Asked about Trinidad and Tobago’s request for the U.S. to amend the terms of a license authorizing the joint development of a promising offshore gas field with Venezuela, Feinstein said “we are certainly open to further conversations with Trinidad and Tobago on this issue to see what can be done to improve energy security in the region.”

In Guyana, Blinken will meet on July 6 with President Irfaan Ali to discuss issues including food and energy security and decarbonisation.

  • Reuters