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'US-Ja link safe'

Published:Wednesday | March 3, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Jamaica's refusal to extradite Christopher 'Dudus' Coke will not strain the country's relationship with the United States, says Prime Minister Bruce Golding.

Responding to questions posed by West St Andrew Member of Parliament Anthony Hylton in Gordon House yesterday, Golding said disagreements between sovereign states should not create a gulf between them.

"The Government is not putting our relationship with the US in jeopardy. The Government values that relationship. It is a long-standing relationship, and it is a relationship that nobody understands better than the people who sit on this side of the House," the prime minister said.

In its 2010 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report report, published Monday, the United States chastised Jamaica for not doing enough to fight drug trafficking and organised crime.

"The GOJ is encouraged to demonstrate its political will to address corruption by successfully investigating, prosecuting, and convicting corrupt officials at all levels of government service, and by the timely extradition of fugitives in accordance with the provisions of the bilateral extradition treaty, without regard to political influence or party affiliation," Washington's report said.

Full response in senate

Golding has said a full response to the report will be done in the Senate by National Security Minister Dwight Nelson. He, however, told Parliament that Government is not putting the country's foreign relations at risk by not extraditing Coke.

"The foreign minister remains fully engaged with the US authorities. There is an issue of disagreement but my understanding of the conduct of foreign policy by a country, small though we are, challenged though we may be, but with 47 years of independence, it cannot be that disagreement with any other foreign power must mean placing the relationship in jeopardy," the prime minister said.