**Bahamas Prime Minister and U.S. President**

Prime Minister The Rt. Hon. Hubert Ingraham returned to The Bahamas today after participating in the three-day CARICOM/United States **Conference on the Caribbean**.

While in Washington, the Prime Minister joined with other Heads of CARICOM governments in a two-hour summit with U.S President George Bush at the U.S. State Department.

In advance of the meeting, President Bush said, *“We are becoming more than neighbors united by the accident of geography. We’re becoming a community linked by common values and shared interests in the close bonds of family and friendship. These growing ties have helped advance peace and prosperity. Yet amid the progress we also see terrible want.”*

The meeting saw an exchange of views on issues such as immigration, trade, drugs and small arms trafficking, the Caribbean Basin Initiative as well health initiatives. Meetings were held as well with the U.S House Ways and Means Committee chaired by Congressman Charles Rangel and the Congressional Black Caucus, chaired by Congresswoman Carolyn Kilpatrick.

Following Wednesday’s Summit, Prime Minister Ingraham took part in separate bilateral meetings with Senators Mel Martinez and Bill Nelson, members of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Prime Minister Ingraham described the meeting with President Bush as very good, and productive. *” He was very respectful of our points of view, and it was very good that a country the size of the United States would have its President spend two full hours with us in the Caribbean – such a small part of the population of the world.”* He continued, *“Discussions with the United States President were very good, very cordial, and very frank. He stated very clearly those things which the United States could and would do. All Heads of Government were pleased with the results of the discussions.”*

Dr. Brent Hardt, Charge d’Affaires of the US Embassy in Nassau said the *“historic and successful”* meetings with US President George Bush and with US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice cemented U.S. dialogue and agenda with the region, particularly because they created a sense of openness and a good feeling of understanding among all leaders who spent time with each other. * “The focus was on people and people of the Caribbean, and how can we the United States strengthen our partnerships with the governments and the people of the region”.* he said, adding *”The conference exceeded all expectations.”*

Joining the Prime Minister in Washington were the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Hon. Brent Symonette; Secretary to the Cabinet Wendall Major; former Bahamas Ambassador to Washington Joshua Sears; and other Government officials.

*Photo Credit: OAS

Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham & U.S President George Bush at the U.S State Department*