NEW YORK, USA – U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice met on Tuesday with her Vincentian counterpart, Camillo Gonsalves to discuss Gonsalves’ arrest by a New York Police Department (NYPD) cop on March 28.
The St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) U.N. Mission said in a statement that Rice expressed regret on behalf of herself and the U.S. government at the incident in which Gonsalves was arrested and detained as he attempted to enter his office.
Rice, who is a member of cabinet of the U.S. government, visited Gonsalves at his office in the Permanent Mission of SVG to the United Nations, the first time a cabinet-level official of the U.S. government visited the Vincentian Mission.
Gonsalves, recognizing that Rice is President of the United Nations Security Council at a particularly busy period in the Council’s agenda, stressed his appreciation that she had taken a personal interest in the matter, and had taken the time to visit him at his office, the statement said.
“The half-hour conversation took place in a friendly and positive atmosphere, befitting the longstanding history of excellent relations between the United States of America and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The two Ambassadors covered all of the issues surrounding the 28 March incident. They discussed the facts of the incident, as well as the larger issues related to the interactions between sovereign countries and their diplomatic representatives.”
Rice informed Gonsalves that the NYPD would undertake a thorough internal examination of what took place on March 28.
The Vincentian envoy has previously detailed his assault, arrest and detention by the NYPD in the lobby of his workplace.
Under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and the relevant resolutions and agreements governing the interactions between the United Nations and the United States, diplomatic agents have immunity from arrest or detention in the exercise of their functions.
Gonsalves thanked Rice for her personal concern, empathy, and sensitivity to all of the relevant issues at play in this incident, according to the statement.
“He also updated Ambassador Rice on developments that took place since the 28 March incident. Ambassador Rice reiterated the seriousness with which the U.S. government views its obligations to ensure that the dignity and safety of United Nations’ diplomats is respected.
“Ambassador Rice also indicated that she intended to discuss the incident with both CARICOM and the 33-member Group of Latin American and Caribbean countries (GRULAC), which sent formal letters of protest to the United States Mission in solidarity with Ambassador Gonsalves,” the statement further said.
Both ambassadors agreed to keep in touch to follow up on the matter.
“The very helpful and fruitful discussion between Ambassador Rice and Ambassador Gonsalves was indicative of both the seriousness with which the U.S. Government is treating the incident at the highest levels, and the successes of the Vincentian Government’s sustained and principled diplomatic activity in defence of their sovereignty and international law. The Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines welcomes the visit by Ambassador Rice and her sensitivity in this matter to be useful first steps towards ultimate resolution of this multifaceted issue,” the statement said.
The Unity Labour Party government in SVG has said that it will leave no stones unturned in its quest to seek redress and was considering diplomatic and legal options.
Gonsalves is scheduled to brief Vincentians in New York on the issue at a town hall meeting from 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesday (today) at Friends of Crown Heights Educational Centre, 671 Prospect Place, Brooklyn, NY, between Bedford and Franklyn Avenue.