Jamaica Prime Minister Andrew Holness has described as “very productive” his historic meeting on Wednesday with United States Vice President Kamala Harris, whose father is Jamaican-born.
“This afternoon, I had the distinguished pleasure of meeting with Vice President of the United States, the Hon. Kamala Harris,” said Holness in a post on Twitter. “Our discussions were very productive, as we affirmed our shared commitment to increase cooperation for the mutual benefit of Jamaica & the United States.”
Holness — whose meeting at the White House was the first for a Jamaican leader since 1995, when former Prime Minister P.J. Patterson held a working meeting there — said he and Harris discussed several “areas of cooperation.”
They included “violence prevention through intelligence and information sharing, and investment in violence reduction program targeting at risk youth; human capacity development, particularly in relation to cyber security; and digital technology, energy and infrastructure.”
“I was deeply encouraged by the feedback from VP Harris, who committed funding to several areas,” said the Jamaican prime minister, disclosing that they comprised “expansion of commerce and trade; support for our health sector and our COVID-19 recovery efforts; regional energy security; (and) violence reduction program targeting at risk youth.”
“VP Harris expressed agreement for the establishment of a working group between Jamaica and the US to discuss issues unique to Jamaica and to continue dialogue,” Holness added.
“I thank the VP for prioritizing this meeting with Jamaica, and I welcome her announcements to provide greater support through investments,” he continued.
In very terse remarks, during a photo opportunity with reporters, after the leaders’ meeting, Harris said: “We are acutely aware of the interconnection and interdependence between the United States and Jamaica.”
Harris — whose father is retired economist Donald J. Harris, 83 — added that she shared a “history with millions of Americans who have their roots through the generations in Jamaica.”
Harris’s father and her late mother, Indian-born Shyamala Gopalan, divorced when Harris was a child.
Wednesday’s historic meeting commemorated the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the United States and Jamaica.
The Office of the Jamaica Prime Minister said that Holness, during his US visit, is also expected to meet with “high level officials within the US Government” and “will also have discussions with the Diaspora.”
The statement said Holness is expected to return to Jamaica on April 3, 2022.
During his absence, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of National Security, Dr. Horace Chang will be in charge of government, the statement said.