The White House
President George W. Bush
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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
March 20, 2008

President Bush Meets with Prime Ministers of the Bahamas, Barbados and Belize
Cabinet Room

  Presidential Remarks

2:29 P.M. EDT

PRESIDENT BUSH: Secretary Rice and I have had the pleasure of welcoming three of our neighbors -- neighborhood's strong leaders: the Prime Ministers of the Bahamas, Barbados and Belize.

And we had a discussion like you would expect neighbors to have -- how do we work together for our mutual benefit. We talked about trade and tourism. We talked about how to make sure that our security needs are met without interrupting the ability for our people to travel as freely as possible and for the ability of people to be able to make a good living as a result of tourism.

We talked about the region. I assured the leaders that the neighborhood is important to the United States of America. We oftentimes talk about dealing with the Middle East or dealing on the continent of Africa. But it was important for these leaders to know that we believe that a good, strong, healthy, vibrant neighborhood is in the interests of the United States. And so we had a good, friendly, important discussion, and I can't thank the leaders enough for coming. I appreciate very much you being here -- two of whom have just recently won elections -- good, fair, clean elections.

And I reminded them that there's no stronger advocate for democracy than my administration and I admire the fact that you agreed to run, had the courage of your convictions and took your message to the people. And then, of course, there's the old senior man here who's been around quite a while. (Laughter.) You've seen a lot come and go and, so, Mr. Prime Minister, why don't you say a few remarks, if you don't mind.

PRIME MINISTER INGRAHAM: Thank you, Mr. President. We've had a wonderful session this morning. We're very pleased and grateful that the U.S. President invited us to come. We have discussed with him a number of issues of relevance and concern to ourselves, including a desire on our part to have the Caribbean Basin Initiative Act extended -- expires in September of this year. And we talked about tourism, the impact that the current increase in the price of oil is having on travel. We talked about security and democracy.

And my two colleagues, who are recent Prime Ministers, David Thompson of Barbados and Dean Barrow of Belize, were able to engage in a full, frank discussion. And as for myself, this is my fourth time to have been so fortunate to have been to this place. Thank you, Mr. President.

PRESIDENT BUSH: Yes, sir. Thank you all very much.

END 2:32 P.M. EDT

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