Infrastructure, trade, security among priority areas
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President, Dr. Irfaan Ali and Suriname’s President, Chandrikapersad Santokhi (Office of the President photo)
President, Dr. Irfaan Ali and Suriname’s President, Chandrikapersad Santokhi (Office of the President photo)

— as Suriname’s President returns to Guyana

OVER the next few days, discussions between President, Dr. Irfaan Ali and his Surinamese counterpart, Chandrikapersad Santokhi, will centre on a number of key areas including infrastructure, agriculture, security, transportation, the oil and gas industry, trade and the development of the human resource capacity of both countries.
This was confirmed on Monday by President Ali, who spoke with reporters on the sidelines of an activity at Cove and John, East Coast Demerara.
“It is a wide-ranging array of topics that we have on the agenda; agriculture, removing barriers; all of that is on the agenda,” Dr. Ali posited.
He related that President Santokhi’s visit to Guyana is one that is important, especially as the two countries proceed with a number of joint initiatives. “We have committed ourselves as neighbours to working together on various initiatives, some very transformational, so it [Santokhi’s official visit] is a continuation of that collaboration [and] building stronger ties,” the Guyanese Head of State said.

He indicated that close collaboration with Suriname is strategic, since the country is similarly positioned, and like Guyana, it is also gearing up to become a major player within the oil and gas industry. “Both countries have small populations, similar challenges, [and] similar opportunities ahead, so we have to see how we can merge our thinking, and see if our policies would reflect that integrated approach we want,” President Ali said.
A statement issued by Guyana’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation, on Saturday, indicated that Santokhi’s four-day visit is in response to an invitation from President Ali. It follows the visit by President Ali to Suriname in November 2020, during which the two presidents launched the Guyana-Suriname Strategic Dialogue and Co-operation Platform (SDCP).

During this visit, the Heads of State plan to review the progress made thus far under the SDCP mechanism in the areas of foreign policy co-ordination and political dialogue, environment, health, infrastructure and transportation, agriculture, immigration, customs, security and private sector enhancement.
The two presidents are also slated to have important discussions in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic and social impact it has had on the two countries. Over the last two months, both countries have also been faced with significant flooding In addition to the bilateral initiatives, Presidents Ali and Santokhi also have plans to discuss priority issues on the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) agenda. The aforementioned press release said that “This sustained engagement between Presidents Ali and Santokhi is testimony to their shared vision and commitment to converging the collective energies of the two countries for the benefit of the citizens of both countries and the region as a whole.

It is projected that by 2025, relations between the people of Suriname and the people of Guyana would be significantly strengthened, owing to the materialisation of the Guyana to Suriname bridge link.
President Santokhi is being accompanied by Mellisa K. Santokhi-Seenacherry, First Lady of the Republic of Suriname and a delegation comprising Ambassador Albert R. Ramdin, Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Business and International Co-operation; David Abiamofo, Minister of Natural Resources; Parmanand Sewdien, Minister of Agriculture, Animal Husbandry and Fisheries; Riad Nurmohamed, Minister of Public Works; Albert E. Jubithana, Minister of Transport, Communication and Tourism; representatives of the State Oil Company of Suriname and members of the private sector.

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