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Congressman Charles Rangel pledges support for Jamaica

Published:Friday | July 2, 2010 | 12:00 AM
Ambassador Audrey Marks has the attention of Congressman Charles Rangel during discussions at his Capitol Hill office yesterday. - Contributed

Senior Democratic Congressman Charles Rangel has reaffirmed his support for Jamaica and says he is looking forward to playing a roll in the island's development agenda.

"I firmly believe that job creation can dramatically reduce and even erase many of the current problems that now face the country," he said.

The congressman was speaking during a meeting with Jamaica's ambassador to the United States, Audrey Marks, on Capitol Hill yesterday.

Rangel further reiterated the long and continuing friendship between himself and Jamaica that went back to the 1970s, and said, "I have warm feelings for Jamaica and will continue to be a friend to Jamaica."

The ambassador said she began the congressional meetings with Rangel, one of Jamaica's longest-standing United States supporters, because "it is important to show appreciation and friendship at this time in his career".

Rangel, who was awarded the Order of Jamaica last year, has been embroiled in controversy since the launch of an ethics investigation regarding alleged gift violations and belated disclosure of assets.

He took leave from the chairmanship of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee in March.

Macroeconomic reform

Marks said plans were being finalised on an initiative for the pre-clearance facility for cargo and passengers from Jamaica to the United States. She updated the congressman on some of the agenda items being pursued by the Golding administration, including changes in the macroeconomic model that have resulted in the fiscal deficit for 2010-11 now standing at 6.5 per cent of gross domestic product, down from 10.9 per cent.

Since arriving in Washington just over a month ago, Marks has spent the time focusing on interaction with the State Department and other areas of the administrative branch of the US government. In the weeks ahead, the main focus will be on visiting congressional representatives.