THE fourth summit of the heads of stateof the Association of Caribbean States(ACS) concluded Aug. 5 with the signingof 30 cooperation agreements between theassociation’s 25 member states.Seven presidents and three prime ministers,as well as vice-presidents, vice-premiers,foreign ministers and other officialsattended the summit.The principal agreements signed at thesummit aim to increase aerial and maritimetransportation in the region, findways of improving regional cooperationand increase the benefits of tourism,Samuel Luis Navarro, Vice-President andForeign Minister of Panama, told wireservice EFE.The leaders announced plans to hold asummit during the first half of next yearamong the region’s top tourism officials,with the goal of sharing experiences andproposals on tourism policy, specificallyon cruise ships.The leaders also discussed the need toreduce poverty through commercial, energyand financial integration, according toEFE.Leaders from other Central Americannations said they would like to join CostaRica and the Caribbean community(CARICOM) in the free-trade agreementbetween the two, the daily La Naciónreported. However, no official moves arebeing made and leaders are in a “purelypolitical” stage, Costa Rican ForeignMinister Roberto Tovar told the daily.After being approved by legislators infirst debate, the free-trade agreement withCARICOM remains in the LegislativeAssembly, where it must still be approvedin second debate before it can take effect.Created in 1994, ACS is a permanentmultilateral organization dedicated topromoting cooperation and strengtheningintegration among Caribbean nations.During the summit, Costa RicanPresident Abel Pacheco urged Caribbeanheads of state to unite and take advantageof the number of votes they collectivelywield within international organizations.“We (the Caribbean) are a politicalpower. With the number of votes we haveat the United Nations, if we act together,we can attract what we want to the region.We can pressure the large and powerfulnations… Together we’re invincible,”Pacheco said.Mexican President Vicente Fox used hisspeech to demand that the internationalcommunity come up with “quicker solutions”to help Haiti overcome the severecrisis it faces, according to EFE.“Let’s rethink Haiti,” Fox said. “Time ispassing.”Representatives of Cuba andVenezuela criticized the United States forits “selfish decisions” on trade policy andits “harassment” of both countries.
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