Royal reception for Rowleys - T&T prime minister arrives for official visit
The pop of bullets, the blare of trumpets and the roar of airplane engines all signalled the arrival yesterday of Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley and his wife, Sharon, for a five-day official visit to Jamaica.
The 48 soldiers who formed the guard of honour that awaited Rowley stood in stoic silence as he greeted Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness with a hearty hug.
The cordial relations shared between the two leaders will no doubt be emphasised as they sit down this week to iron out the rocky trade relations between their countries.
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Kamina Johnson Smith has described the visit as highly significant.
"It is important for both countries to strengthen bilateral relations between two of the largest markets and English-speaking populations in the region, so it's about strengthening the relationship and the partnerships between us," she told The Gleaner as she awaited the Rowleys' arrival.
Johnson Smith has been instrumental in brokering diplomatic solutions over trade and immigration concerns between Jamaica and Trinidad.
Talks she held with Trinidadian Minister of Foreign and CARICOM Affairs, Dennis Moses, after strong calls from the private sector helped to lay the groundwork for Rowley's visit.
High on the agenda of the Trinidadian prime minister during his visit will be a meeting with private-sector interests. He is also expected to hold bilateral talks, meet with chairman of the CARICOM Review Commission, Bruce Golding, as well as parliamentary leaders, visit the Bob Marley Museum, deliver an address at the University of the West Indies, and watch the T20 cricket match between the Jamaica Tallawahs and the Trinibago Knight Riders.
His enthusiastic strides on the red carpet seem to signal his optimism about the outcomes of the visit.
Johnson Smith was, however, tight-lipped on her expectations, only indicating that a statement would be issued regarding what would have been achieved at the end of the visit.
Rowley's visit is expected to concretise a joint commission agreement between Jamaica and Trinidad that was announced by Holness at the 37th summit of Caribbean leaders held earlier this month.