Rodney Charles firm on PM’s meeting with V’zuelan Ambassador: It was wrong


MP for Naparima, Rodney Charles. –

OPPOSITION MP Rodney Charles says he still holds the view that the Prime Minister should have delegated the responsibility of meeting with the Venezuelan ambassador to the Minister of Foreign Affairs; or engage his counterpart in Caracas.

In a release on Wednesday, Charles said protocol consultants advise that the hierarchical standing of all present must be acknowledged.

“I advised in my original comment that countries may depart from established protocols but must be justified on cold hard analyses and not the need for a hurried photo-op, or to give the impression of being in charge of a looming crisis,” he said.

He said it is not in dispute that ambassadors, in the past, have held one-on-one meetings with heads of governments, but it does not weaken his resolve that Dr Rowley should not have met with the Venezuelan ambassador.

“It would have helped knowing how many of the meetings to which the former ambassador referred were courtesy visits like the presentation of credentials or, whether a prior relationships existed such as having attended the same university.

“Were substantive bi-lateral issues discussed?” Charles asked.

He said diplomacy has changed significantly in recent times and while communication between leaders was important, only presidents and prime ministers who chair their national Cabinets can sort out tensions between ministries.

“The Venezuelan ambassador cannot make policy decisions. He is a messenger who reports to his superiors in the foreign ministry,” he added.

“When in 2020, our PM meets with an ambassador to discuss important bi-lateral matters, he signals optically, diplomatically and otherwise that TT is the junior partner in the relationship between the two countries. That meeting should have been a last resort ….. Not a first option.

“It was essentially a hurried photo-op to give the impression of his leadership given our out of control Venezuelan relationship.

“Any attempted defense of his actions is inexcusable,” Charles said.

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