Saint Lucia’s Prime Minister, Allen Castanet, has defended his decision to meet with United States President, Donald Trump, on Friday in Florida.
Trump met with leaders from The Bahamas, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica and Saint Lucia at his private residence in Palm Beach, Florida, drawing criticism from, among others, Antigua & Barbuda’s Prime Minister, Gaston Browne.
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister, Doctor Ralph Gonsalves said the meeting was ‘troubling.’
Asked how he would respond, Chastanet told reporters Tuesday: “I don’t.”
“At the end of the day I was elected by Saint Lucians to represent Saint Lucia,” the Saint Lucia PM explained.
He said the topics that were discussed were of national and regional importance.
Chastanet said the meeting with the US President was not a gathering for the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).
“This was a meeting by invitation by the President of the United States of America,” the Saint Lucia PM asserted.
He stated that the US is this country’s largest trading partner, Saint Lucia’s largest diaspora and the country that offers Saint Lucia the greatest opportunity for growth.
“So if I am invited to put forward Saint Lucia’s agenda, I will do so,” Chastanet told reporters.
He pointed out that he has always been ‘extremely respectful’ and will continue to be respectful on CARICOM’s positions.
But Chastanet asserted that CARICOM is ‘very divided’ on the Venezuela issue as evident in the way members of the organization voted at the Organisation of American States (OAS).
He said it was not the first time that CARICOM leaders and CARICOM countries have held different positions on issues.
“There are those who support China; there are those who support Taiwan; there are those who support the CIP programmes; there are those who don’t. Unanimity at CARICOM has never been a problem in terms of us working together,” Chastanet explained.
He reiterated that Saint Lucia believes for Venezuela to be able to ‘get on with its life’, there must be fresh elections.