Belize Prime Minister Dean Barrow left Belize today, Monday, en route to the Dominican Republic where that country's president will hand over the 6-month pro-tempore presidency of the Central American Integration System (SICA in Spanish) to Belize, effective July 1, 2014, according to a press release from the Office of the Prime Minister.

Official sources in the Dominican Republic have announced that Heads of State and Government from Central America and the Dominican Republic are scheduled to meet in Punta Cana this Friday, 27th June 2014. They added that key officials from the European Union and the United States, as well as ministers of foreign relations of Turkey and New Zealand, are expected to attend the meeting.

SICA's members are Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panam´┐Ż. The Dominican Republic participates as an associated state. Mexico, Chile and Brazil are regional observers and Taiwan, Spain and Germany are extra regional observers of SICA.

SICA reports that an orientation workshop was held in Belize "to train senior officials" and to apprise them of current SICA issues, such as democratic security, institutional strengthening, integrated risk management and climate change, social integration, economic integration, and other sectoral areas. The same issues will be at the heart of the upcoming meeting in the Dominican Republic.

SICA added that preparations were also made for Belize to assume the pro-tempore presidency of SICA in the second half of 2014.

Barrow is due to return to Belize next Monday, June 30, 2014. Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Natural Resources and Agriculture Hon. Gaspar Vega will act as Prime Minister.