Sweet visit: Local chocolate maker Isabell Brash, left, of Cocobel Chocolate Trinidad, speaks with Dr Jill Biden, second left, wife of United States Vice-President Joe Biden, grandchildren Niaomi and Maisy Biden, and Sheila Nix, Biden’s chief of staff, during a visit to Cocobel at Fitt Street, Woodbrook, yesterday. —Photos: CURTIS CHASE

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Biden departs with a smile, thumbs-up

By Anna Ramdass anna.ramdass@trinidadexpress.com

With a smile and a thumbs-up signal, United States Vice-President Joe Biden yesterday left Trinidad for Brazil—the last leg of his Latin American visit.

Biden was scheduled to depart at 3.30 p.m., but Air Force Two did not take off till 5.07 p.m.

After a busy day of meetings in the capital city with Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar and other Caricom heads, Biden left looking very contented—a sign of a fruitful outcome.

Unlike his arrival, Biden’s departure from Piarco International Airport was less grandiose.

Media were requested to arrive at 1 p.m. and underwent the routine security checks. There was less police presence, but law enforcement officials and United States officials were on site.

By 2 p.m., media were informed there would be a delay in the departure. Just after 4 p.m., members of the media were escorted outside on the tarmac directly opposite Air Force Two.

At 4.46 p.m., Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Dookeran together with United States Charge D’Affaires Thomas Smitham, Ministry and US Embassy officials, walked toward the aircraft and awaited Biden’s arrival.

Four minutes later, a convoy arrived with Dr Jill Biden and her two grand-daughters.

Dookeran shook their hands and exchanged pleasantries before they boarded the aircraft.

Several bags containing tokens and gifts were taken out from the trunk of the official vehicles by staff and carried onto the plane.

At 4.53 p.m., Vice-President Biden’s convoy arrived.

He departed his vehicle, shook hands with Dookeran and other officials and exchanged brief words before darting up the flight of stairs to the aircraft.

Before entering the plane, Biden turned around, waved and gave a thumbs-up as the rains followed.

Dookeran and other officials ran for shelter and waited until the aircraft took off at 5.07 p.m.

Some Embassy staff, wanting to capture the moment, took quick pictures with Air Force Two in the background before it departed.

Speaking to the media afterward, Dookeran said Biden’s visit was a good one.

He emphasised the relationship between the United States and Trinidad and Tobago remained strong.

Said Dookeran: “The relationship has always been, on the official level, a very sound one.”

Biden’s visit, he noted, was the first that a person of that standing has made to this country over the last few years.

“It had an impact in renewing the focus that the United States has on the Caribbean region and in the context of Trinidad and Tobago it also created a new opportunity for us to work together with them on many issues of national security, energy, trade,” he said.

Dookeran said the bringing together of Caribbean countries was of major benefit.

“I think there has never been a doubt in my mind as to the depth of the relationship. We had some candid moments of discussion on a number of issues pertaining to the region, and that is what the meeting was all about,” he said, adding the meeting will chart new directions in the future.

Questioned on the upcoming visit of the President of China and whether he expects tangible benefits to follow, Dookeran said: “Diplomatic encounters do not normally have immediate results. I do expect some very concrete results to develop out of that visit.

“This is the first time the President of China is visiting the Caribbean in a visual capacity. That in itself is history,” he added.

He said for the visit to take place so early in his term was also an indication of the acknowledgment he has made to the region and Trinidad and Tobago. 

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