Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves says he had accepted invitations to visit three African nations and will make the trip next year.
Gonsalves, speaking at a town hall meeting with Vincentians in New York on Saturday said, President of South Africa, Jacob Zuma, President of Ghana, John Dramani Mahama, and Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Hailemariam Desalegn Boshe, have invited him to visit their respective countries.
He further said he will visit Qatar in November, his third trip to that nation.
“And I will do so sometime during the course of next year, and they have also accepted my invitation to visit St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” Gonsalves said.
The Vincentian leader who is in New York for the United Nation’s General Assembly, said that he does not go to the international gathering “to lime” (hangout) or “gallivant”, but to do serious work.
He further said that at the U.N. gathering, he selects and targets a number of leaders especially for specific purposes and some of these leaders request to see him.
During this trip to the United Nations, Gonsalves said he held bilateral talks with the new Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.
He said that St. Vincent and the Grenadines has signed five or six agreements with Qatar, including economic and investment agreements, and agreements concerning culture and communications.
“A wide array of agreements,” Gonsalves said, adding, “Qatar is a small country in the Middle East but one of the wealthiest countries in the world and it is now looking out.”
He said that he also met with Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah, prime minister of Kuwait, a country with which SVG has very good relations.
“And I have built upon the work which had been originally done by [former Vincentian prime minister] Sir James [Mitchell] when he visited Kuwait on one occasion during his prime ministership,” Gonsalves said of Sir James, who was prime minister from 1984 to October 2000.
“I’ve been there but we need to go beyond the work we do together with Kuwait through the Kuwaiti Fund for Arab Economic Development, to embrace other kinds of relationships, which is what we are working on,” he said.
Gonsalves said he also met with Prime Minister of New Zealand, John Phillip Key, the foreign secretaries of Azerbaijan and Georgia, Elmar Mammadyarov and Dr Maia Panjikidze.
“There was a time in our country when foreign policy was seen as a mere external adornment to an independent state,” Gonsalves said.
“But foreign policy, profoundly, is an extension of domestic policy and is inextricably bound with the overall development of one’s country. And, indeed, the smaller you are, the more important foreign policy is,” he further told the town hall meeting.