Prime Minister Harris; His Excellency the Governor General, Sir S.W. Tapley Seaton and Resident High Court Judge, His Lordship Justice Trevor Ward QC, pose with visiting dignitaries and resident officials of the Diplomatic Corps at Camp Springfield.

BASSETERRE, St. Kitts, September 19, 2018 (Press Unit in the Office of the Prime Minister) – Following what is being described as the largest Independence Day Parade at the  Warner Park Cricket Stadium and the subsequent Toasts to the Nation today (September 19), St. Kitts and Nevis’ Prime Minister, Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris, held important bilateral discussions with three visiting foreign diplomats, namely, from Japan, the United States of America and Switzerland, all with the aim of strengthening cooperation with these nations.

The cordial and highly productive meetings were held with Ambassador of Japan, His Excellency Mitsuhiko Okada; Ambassador of the United States of America; Her Excellency, Linda S. Taglialatela, and Ambassador of Switzerland, His Excellency Urs Schnider, who, along with diplomats and representatives from more than 17 other countries, are in the Federation to attend the 35th Independence anniversary events.

During their meeting, Ambassador Okada updated Prime Minister Harris on his country’s development cooperation agenda with St. Kitts and Nevis, which includes the donation of disaster reduction equipment such as tarpaulins, generator and fire extinguishing pumps to the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA). With respect to technical assistance, His Excellency Okada noted that Japan can assist the Federation in areas of coastal fishing, energy saving and renewable energy development, as well as providing training opportunities for residents of St. Kitts and Nevis in the fields of climate change, disaster risk reduction and environmental management.

While meeting with His Excellency Schnider, the St. Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister stressed the need for greater levels of cooperation with Switzerland in the area of safety and security and the need for reform of the country’s prison system. This includes rendering assistance in establishing workable rehabilitation programmes to help criminal offenders reintegrate into society and become productive citizens, as well as to offer technical assistance in the use of ankle monitoring bracelets as part of the country’s legal system.

Another area of discussion during Wednesday’s bilateral meetings was the waiver of the visa interview process for qualified holders of St. Kitts and Nevis passports wanting to renew their United States visas.

Prime Minister Harris expressed profound gratitude on behalf of the people of St. Kitts and Nevis to US Ambassador, Her Excellency Linda Taglialatela, as the twin island Federation is one of just a few countries to have been granted this waiver privilege.

Prime Minister Harris also thanked the foreign diplomats for making themselves available to join St. Kitts and Nevis in the celebration of the Federation’s 35 years of Independence.

The series of meetings were held at the St. Kitts and Nevis Defence Force (SKNDF) Headquarters at Camp Springfield following the celebratory toasts to the nation.

Other foreign dignitaries participating in the 35thIndependence anniversary celebrations include High Commissioner of the Bahamas, H.E. Reuben Rahming; H.E. Anton Ojala, New Zealand’s High Commissioner; Deputy Head of Mission for Morocco, Mr. Mohammed Ali Elkamlichi; H.E. Kim Byung-yun, Ambassador of South Korea and Apostolic Nuncio His Excellency Most Reverend Fortunatus Nwachukwu.

Also present at the different events were foreign diplomats residing in St. Kitts and Nevis including Cuban Ambassador to the Federation, His Excellency Abelardo Fabio Hernández Ferrer; Resident Ambassador of the Republic of China (Taiwan) to the Federation, His Excellency Tom Lee, and Mr. Jose Olavarria Rivas, Charge d’affaires of the Venezuelan Embassy.

Prime Minister Dr. the Hon. Timothy Harris and Ambassador of Japan, His Excellency Mitsuhiko Okada.

Prime Minister Harris greets Switzerland Ambassador, His Excellency Urs Schnider

Prime Minister Harris with US Ambassador, Her Excellency Linda Taglialatela