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US Vice President Harris to announce new embassies, spending for Caribbean on trip


By Brendan O’Boyle and Sarah Morland

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris will announce more than $100 million in new assistance for the Caribbean when she visits the Bahamas on Thursday, including the establishment of two U.S. embassies.

Over $50 million will be spent on humanitarian aid for Haiti, a senior U.S. administration official said.

Harris, the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit the Bahamas since its independence in 1973, and Bahamas Prime Minister Philip Davis will host Caribbean leaders in Nassau.

They will discuss topics including security and firearms trafficking to the region and U.S.-Caribbean efforts to respond to climate change.

The official said the embassies would be in the eastern Caribbean but did not disclose specific locations.

The assistance for Haiti will total $53.7 million and will be disbursed via the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), which will focus on food and health aid as a gang-related humanitarian crisis continues to unfold.

Haiti’s Prime Minister Ariel Henry will be among leaders from the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) regional bloc meeting with Harris on Thursday.

A senior administration official said the U.S. is increasing its support for the Haitian National Police and stressed Washington’s support for an international security force in Haiti.

“We continue to make clear that we believe the security and the humanitarian situation in Haiti is worsening and the situation on the ground will not improve without armed security assistance from international partners,” the official said.

Discussions on a military force are ongoing, they added, though any decision would be in consultation with Haiti’s government and the United Nations.

Neither the U.S. nor other major powers have stepped up to lead such a force, which Henry’s government had urgently requested from the international community last October.

Harris on Thursday will also announce a new position in the Department of Justice to prosecute firearms trafficking to the Caribbean, to be held by an experienced DOJ prosecutor.

(Reporting by Brendan O’Boyle and Sarah Morland; Writing by Brendan O’Boyle; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)

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