Prime Minister Andrew Holness emerged from closed-door bilateral talks with United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo just after nine Wednesday morning with a broad smile, but it was almost at the end of the just over 20-minute joint media briefing afterwards that the reason for his cheerful demeanour became clear.

After delivering prepared presentations and taking four questions — two from members of the local media and two from American journalists — Holness pointed to what he deemed the major success of the almost hour-long discussion of the two delegations.

“I probably didn’t convey how well our meeting went. We had very frank discussions. Jamaica was able to raise, in direct ways, our perspective on difficult and complex issues, and I believe that the United States [delegation] was equally upfront in their perspectives as well,” said Holness, having earlier outlined some of the areas of support Jamaica was seeking from the US.

“I am pleased to say that we found common understanding on the urgent need to scale up our security cooperation. The main focus will be on bolstering Jamaica’s capacity to counter transnational organised crime, secure our borders and ports, and interrupt the flow of illicit weapons into the country,” said Holness.

“I cannot overstate the urgency with which we need to address these security matters. The Jamaican public most recently heard me underscore this in my new year’s message, and I have also emphasised their importance in my discussions with Secretary Pompeo today. Mr Secretary, we are therefore greatly heartened to have your pledge of support as we move to rigorously implement Plan Secure Jamaica,” added Holness.

He argued that at the wider level, securing Jamaica also requires sustained intervention on the economic and social front.