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Last updated: 14 April, 2009 - Published 12:35 GMT
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Setting the summit's agenda
Albert Ramdin, OAS Assistant Secretary General
Ambassador Ramdin: OAS to be "more relevant" post summit
OAS Assistant Secretary General Albert Ramdin has called on leaders due to attend the Fifth Summit of the Americas in Port of Spain, to work together to tackle the many challenges of the hemisphere.

Ambassador Ramdin said it would be critically important for regional leaders to meet and talk about the issues in their countries.

Energy, food, the environment and the financial crisis are among the matters on the Summit's agenda.

Caribbean leaders will join their counterparts from throughout the Americas, including US president Barack Obama at the April 17-19 summit in Port of Spain.

OAS more relevant

Ambassador Ramdin said he expected the OAS to be in a stronger position and "more relevant" coming out of those talks.

oas seal
The summit is organised by the OAS

Speaking at a Washington conference organized by the American University's Council on Latin America, he noted that the summit coincides with an important period for the Americas.

"The political landscape in the region has changed,” he declared, while noting that “two thirds of the leaders are attending their first Summit and new types of leadership are developing”.

He called on the leaders to “deal head on with the critical challenges" such as energy, food and the environment, as well as the financial crisis.

Caricom challenge

Meanwhile, a former Jamaica deputy prime minister and minister for national security, Dr Peter Phillips, has lamented what he felt was the absence of clear statements coming from Caricom leaders on what they expected out of the summit.

In an interview with BBC Caribbean he said the Summit of the Americas “is of fundamental importance as a platform to get the interests of the Caribbean … put into the debate.”

Dr Phillips listed fiscal support, the global financial crisis and its impact on the region, project financing, migration, crime and food security as issues critical to the region.

He said while he doesn’t expect the summit to focus entirely on the issues of concern to the Caribbean, “I would hope that our concerns are taken into account.

“We won’t have an opportunity in the very near future when we will be hosting, and when we will be able to take advantage of our situation as hosts, to at least help define some of the issues.”

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