Prime Minister the Hon. Gaston Browne bid the High Commissioner of the of India farewell as the High Commissioner’s tour of duty comes to an end.
Prime Minister Browne hailed the High Commissioner for his diligent work during his tenure in the region. The Prime Minister stated that on behalf of his government, he is very appreciative of India’s contribution to Antigua and Barbuda and the strengthening of diplomatic and friendly relations between both countries. The shared Commonwealth heritage between Antigua and India has been a foundation for Antigua and Barbuda’s support of India in the International Fora, especially within the FAO and the WHO, PM Browne highlighted.
“Thank you for your personal efforts in strengthening the relations between our two nations and for your country’s pledge of US1.5 Million to help Barbuda after the devastation of hurricane Irma,” Prime Minister Browne commented.
To help cement the longstanding relationship between Antigua and Barbuda and India, Prime Minister Browne announced the offer of a gift of land to India of which a Permanent High Commission can be established here in Antigua. “This will be a great platform to further the relationship,” PM Browne continued.
The Indian High Commissioner to Antigua and Barbuda is currently based in Guyana and covers the Eastern Caribbean as well.
Before offering his closing remarks, Prime Minister Browne indicated his displeasure and disappointment in the unfortunate remarks made by India’s Finance Minister in regards Antigua and Barbuda’s Citizenship by Investment Programme and Mr. Mehul Choksi.
In response, H. E Venkatachalam Mahalingam thanked PM Browne and his government for their full cooperation over the last five years. The High Commissioner congratulated the government for their extraordinary success and thanked the government for their continuous support of India’s candidacies in the international fora.
High Commissioner Mahalingam also thanked PM Browne for his offer of a gift of land of which a High Commission Office is to be established. He noted that his government is planning on opening 35 new missions worldwide with a focus on Latin America, and that this offer from Antigua comes with good timing. “I will convey your offer and concerns to New Dehli and will present an official response before leaving my post,” H.E Mahalingam responded.
The High Commissioner in closing thanked PM Browne for his open communication with the Choksi matter and promised to respond regarding India’s Foreign Minister’s statement.