United States Vice President Joe Biden and wife Dr Jill Biden paid a courtesy call on President Anthony Carmona and wife Reema today at the Office of the President in St Ann's, Port of Spain. In the photo are several secondary school pupils invited to the function. PHOTO by MICHEAL BRUCE

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BUSY DAY FOR BIDEN

US vice-president meets Govt, Caricom leaders today

By Anna Ramdass anna.ramdass@trinidadexpress.com




United States Vice-President Joseph Biden applauded the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force who serenaded him and his family with the sweet sound of the pan upon his arrival in Trinidad last night.

Biden, his wife Dr Jill Biden and his two grand-daughters arrived on the United States Air Force Two aircraft at Piarco International Airport at approximately 8.25 p.m. He was originally scheduled to arrive at 6.45 p.m.

Upon the arrival of the aircraft, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, dressed in a blue suit, led her members of Cabinet onto the red carpet laid out on the tarmac.

Members of the Defence Force hurriedly swept the red carpet before the guests exited the plane.

Persad-Bissessar, accompanied by Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Dookeran, the United States Charge D’Affaires Thomas Smitham and Defence Force officials, greeted the Bidens as they exited the aircraft.

The National Anthem of the United States of America was played following the Trinidad and Tobago National Anthem.

Vice-President Biden was then escorted by the Guard Commander and the formation commander of the Defence Force to inspect the Guard of Honour.

Persad-Bissessar then introduced him and his family members to members of her Cabinet.

The Bidens were then supposed to head to their vehicle and leave.

But the sounds of Natasha Wilson’s “Sweet T&T” played on the pan caught the Bidens’ attention and Persad-Bissessar led them to the TTDF Steel Orchestra where they listened for a couple minutes and applauded before the rains came.

Biden stood halfway from inside his vehicle and complimented and thanked the steel orchestra.

A motorcade then followed to the Hyatt Regency hotel on Wrightson Road in Port of Spain where the Bidens will be staying.

Hours before the Bidens’ arrival intense security checks were conducted at the airport and even on the outskirts.

Police cars were stationed at all points leading to Piarco.

At the airport, media personnel were asked to arrive at 4 p.m. and a security search was conducted before entry.

United States law enforcement officials were present at the airport, some standing in the shadows while others were engaged in checking vehicles lined on the tarmac.

The large number of media personnel were accommodated in a tiny room and were briefed by officials from the military.

Around 5.30 p.m, the media were informed that the Bidens’ arrival was delayed by an hour.

There were no immediate responses or reasons given for the late arrival.

Restlessness combined with hunger had most people—from media to police to other officials—exiting the airport and rushing to a fast food vendor outside.

Today, Biden will be busy with a series of meetings before he departs Trinidad in the afternoon.

Biden and his wife are scheduled to pay a courtesy call on President Anthony Carmona and his wife Reema at the Office of the President, St Ann’s at 10 a.m.

Biden will then leave for the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann’s for meetings and his wife will head to Cocobel in Woodbrook.

At 10.45 a.m., Biden will pay a courtesy call on Persad-Bissessar in the State Room of the Diplomatic Centre.

At 11-11.30 a.m., there will be a bilateral meeting between Biden and Persad-Bissessar and Government officials.

Following that a multilateral meeting is scheduled to take place between Biden, Caricom leaders and Dominican Republic officials.

A luncheon, hosted by Persad-Bissessar, will follow.

At 2.15 p.m., a news conference will take place where Biden, Persad-Bissessar and Caricom chair-Michel Joseph Martelly, Haiti’s president, will sign the Trade Investment Framework (TIFA) between Caricom and the United States.

Biden will then leave for Piarco, where he and his family are scheduled to depart at 3.30 p.m.




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