By CLINT CHAN TACK
Port-of-Spain, Trinidad — PRIME MINISTER Kamla Persad-Bissessar has confirmed that this country is continuing to assist Grenada with its security needs, through coastal radar facilities established through an initiative of her predecessor Patrick Manning.
She confirmed the assistance during a joint news conference with Grenada’s Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell at the Office of the Prime Minister in St Clair.
The regular weekly post-Cabinet news conference at the same venue was stopped to allow Persad-Bissessar and Mitchell to address reporters.
Radar facilities in Grenada were established under a joint arrangement between Mitchell’s first administration (1995 to 2008) and the former Manning administration. Similar facilities were established in St Vincent and the Grenadines and St Lucia.
Asked whether the coastal radar in Grenada is still operational and if TT is continuing to assist Grenada with it, Mitchell said: “The radar arrangement is very much intact. The system is up and running. The central command system is operating very effectively.”
He disclosed that at 8 am yesterday, he was informed by his officials, “that we have had the third major interception of drugs because of this radar, a support system that we have set up with Trinidad.”
Mitchell said while the radar station at the southern end of Grenada is “working beautifully”, there is a problem with the facility on the northern end of the island.
“We have informed the TT Government, through diplomatic channels about the problems and the need for additional support to ensure that we can have all sides and all areas covered effectively,” Mitchell said.
Saying this country has agreed to his request, Mitchell was confident that, “very soon we should have no areas of the country available to our enemies in that aspect of criminal activity, as far as our borders are concerned.”
Assuring him that his request is being addressed, Persad-Bissessar said: “Up to last (Wednesday) night, whilst we were in the midst of our national security meeting, we were advised by the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) that the radar is up and running in all of these nations (Grenada, St Vincent and St Lucia.”
Disclosing that Cabinet recently agreed to support the Grenadian government with some “infrastructural work” at the radar station in the northern part of Grenada, Persad-Bissessar said: “I expect that part which is not totally covered, will also fall in stream with the radar.”
“That has turned out to be quite a good project. We have done a lot of work on it over the last three years,” she added.
Disclosing that Mitchell is amongst the first set of Caricom leaders who have accepted her invitation to meet with US Vice-President Joe Biden when he visits TT at the end of this month, Persad-Bissessar identified security as one of the priority areas for discussion between Biden and Caricom leaders.
Persad-Bissessar said security, trade, education and health were some of the issues which she discussed with Mitchell during their bilateral talks.
“There are some agreements which are already in place and others which could develop further as we strengthen our ties with Grenada,” she explained.
As he agreed with Persad-Bissessar, Mitchell observed: “When I was elected overwhelmingly as Prime Minister of Grenada, I took a decision that the country I would visit first, officially, would be Trinidad,” as he noted that TT-Grenada trade relations over the years have been extremely strong.
(Reproduced from the Friday, May 10 2013 issue of the Trinidad Newsday)