• Kyodo News


Japan and 13 Caribbean nations agreed in Tokyo on Thursday to cooperate in curbing global warming and offering support to quake-hit Haiti among other issues at their first meeting in a decade, a Japanese official said.

Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada and his Jamaican counterpart, Kenneth Baugh, cochaired the one-day gathering, the second of its kind since a Tokyo meeting in November 2000, with Okada saying at the outset of the talks that Caribbean nations are “important partners” for Japan.

“I hope we can review our cooperation during the past 10 years and discuss future partnership in combating climate change and offering support for Haiti,” Okada said, adding the Japan-Caribbean talks should have been held more frequently.

Participants of the meeting include representatives from 13 of the 14-nation Caribbean Community, or CARICOM.

CARICOM comprises Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, St. Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago.

The ministerial meeting underlined Tokyo’s renewed pledge to help those nations recover from the global economic crisis and deepen cooperation on global issues, including nuclear disarmament and the reform of the U.N. Security Council.

On climate change, Okada urged Caribbean nations to endorse the Copenhagen Accord, which resulted from a key U.N. climate conference last December, and aim for the adoption of a comprehensive agreement to tackle the problem, the official said.

Caribbean nations said they have already been suffering from the adverse effects of climate change, such as a rise in temperature and more frequent hurricanes, and called for financial aid to deal with natural disasters, she said.

In a document released after the ministerial meeting, participants confirmed their intention to work toward an agreed outcome at the next U.N. climate conference in Mexico in November and December to adopt a new, ambitious and comprehensive legal document to establish a fair and effective international framework to address climate change.

On assistance for Haiti, Japan and CARICOM member states confirmed their commitment to the medium- and long-term reconstruction of the country, according to the document. At the meeting, Haiti called for private-sector participation in the reconstruction efforts, the official said.

The Caribbean countries asked for Japan’s assistance to recover from the financial crisis, saying their economies have been slumping with declines in revenues from tourism, their major industry, and in remittances from expatriates.

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