Address of Mr. Katsutoshi KANEDA, Senior Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan at the Opening Session of the 11th Japan-CARICOM Consultation Meeting

February 16, 2006

Distinguished representatives of the CARICOM Member States and CARICOM Secretariat,

I would like to extend to all of you my warmest welcome to Japan.

As Senior Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs, I take a special pleasure in holding the Eleventh Japan-CARICOM Consultation with the participation of all of you as well as the representatives of the Government of Japan.

CARICOM Member States have been rigorously promoting regional cooperation as exemplified in the establishment of the CARICOM Single Market. At the same time, they are playing important roles in various international fora, especially in the United Nations.

We wish to advance our cooperation with the CARICOM Member States, including our cooperation in international fora. We thereby wish to build an even stronger foundation for our mutual understanding.

Japan has been steadily implementing various cooperation initiatives under "A New Framework for Japan-CARICOM Cooperation for the Twenty-First Century" adopted at the first Japan-CARICOM Ministerial Level Meeting held in Tokyo in November 2000.

Based on the past achievements of our cooperation under this New Framework, we will discuss in our Consultation today and tomorrow, the "Japan-CARICOM Joint Action Plan", which is to be adopted at the Ministerial Level Meeting as a New framework of our cooperation for the next five years.

If we agree upon the content of the Joint Action Plan at this Consultation, I am certain that our relations and exchanges will make a further stride.

I sincerely hope that the Second Ministerial Level Meeting, having been due for quite some time, be held at the earliest possible time and that the Joint Action Plan will be adopted at the Meeting.

I would like to conclude my remarks by wishing for ever closer relations between Japan and CARICOM and for this Consultation to be fruitful through active discussions and candid exchanges of views as in our past meetings.

Thank you very much.

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