Time for the Caribbean and Africa to forge more direct ties – Kagame | Loop Jamaica

The content originally appeared on: Jamaica News | Loop News

It is time for the Caribbean region and the African continent to develop closer ties by way of more direct contacts, says President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame.

According to him, there is too much reliance on multilateral organisations to establish such contacts.

Kagame, who is on a three-day state visit to Jamaica, made the remarks on Thursday afternoon as he addressed a special joint sitting of the Jamaican Parliament.

“Africa and the Caribbean should work together to advance common positions in these (multilateral) bodies where our interests align, as they often do,” said Kagame while highlighting that such positions included climate change and global health.

He said: “Africa and Jamaica do not have to relate to each other only through intermediaries. Our diplomats tend to meet in New York, London or Geneva. I do not have a problem with that, but we could do it otherwise.”

President of Rwanda Paul Kagame inside Gordon House on Thursday.

Continuing, Kagame added that: “It is high time for Africa and the Caribbean to work together in (a) direct and sustained manner, both through our present regional organisations – CARICOM and the African Union – and bilaterally.”

He said the first Africa-CARICOM Summit that was hosted virtually by Kenya last September, was long overdue and should be built upon.

“There should also be direct people-to-people exchanges, particularly for the youth and entrepreneurs,” Kagame said.

He cited that Jamaican professionals have already visited Rwanda and have made “meaningful contributions, some as representatives of leading international organisations.

“This has only made us want to see more people from Jamaica and this region in Rwanda,” he said while pointing out that his country is keen to cooperate with Jamaica much more closely in areas such as investments, national unity and citizen development.

The Rwandan president also thanked Jamaica for supporting his country’s bid to become a member of the Commonwealth.

“We are not strangers to one another. In our diversity, we share common traits, our peoples are resilient, creative and, as our common history shows, also indestructible,” said Kagame.

He added that as the newest member of the Commonwealth, Rwanda is proud to host the next Commonwealth meeting in June.

“And I can’t forget to thank… Jamaica for supporting Rwanda,” he said while noting that Rwanda hopes to see a strong representation from the Caribbean at the next meeting of the Commonwealth.

The next secretary-general of the Commonwealth will be decided at that meeting. Currently, there are two candidates – the incumbent, Baroness Patricia Scotland, who is being challenged by Jamaica’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Kamina Johnson Smith, whose candidature was announced by Jamaica House two weeks ago.