As we reported on Tuesday, a delegation from the newly formed organization, Friends of Belize, is on a three-day working visit to Washington D.C. The delegation was led by former U.S. Ambassador Robert Dieter and former British High Commissioner Philip Priestley. In D.C. they met with several high level government officials to discuss ways in which trade relations can be strengthened between Belize and the United States. On Monday, the group met with Republican Senator Marco Rubio and Democratic Senator Robert Menendez of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee. The meetings concluded on Wednesday evening with a proposal to explore potential avenues of cooperation presented to Congressman Connie Mack and his senior policy staff. Mack is the Chairman of the House Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere. Following the meeting Jose Alpuche, who represents the Belize Chamber of Commerce & Industry, commented on the outcome of the visit to the State Department.
Jose Alpuche, Representative, B.C.C.I.
ďItís been a very timely visit. I believe with all the other issues, the bigger issues facing the American government [and] Belize is not on the top of the agenda. I think this visit has really pointed out the need for this to be done more often, both by government and certainly by others with the purpose of raising the profile of Belize in Washington. The principal visit today was with the State Department and that was quite an instructive visit in the sense that their issue is economic, as is ours to a certain extent but the primary concern for state at the moment are security issues both domestic and the regional security system. I believe we will have to have, from the Chamberís perspective; we must have a deeper dialogue with government on this issue. This visit has really brought home the need to keep up the presence of Belize in Washington. Itís obvious that there are very pressing issues going on. We are not necessarily on the radar screen and itís absolutely timely that we do this. Security seems to be a major concern of the various sectors of government that weíve met with. We will be relaying a lot of this to government when we get back.Ē
The delegation was also received by Belizeís Embassy to the United States.