UK Minister vows re-engagement with Central America

Jeremy Browne, the Foreign Office Minister for Latin America, has pledged renewed British engagement in Central America, saying as an integrated whole the region had the “critical mass” to be a “significant player” on the world stage.

Speaking at a forum organised by the Central American missions in London to mark the 20th anniversary of the relaunching of SICA – Central America’s integration process – he outlined four areas of cooperation, including prosperity, security, climate change and institution-building.

Mr Browne said the re-opening of the British Embassy in El Salvador early next year was a symbol of the re-engagement with the region and he also announced £180,000 of new funding to support security projects across the region.

“Security is a major problem which is a threat to prosperity and development,” he said, adding that the UK would cooperate with SICA to strengthen institutions, “which were not as strong as they need to be in terms of security and human rights.”

Referring to the recent floods, Mr Browne said the UK would assist SICA in adapting to the challenges of climate change.

The Foreign Minister for El Salvador, Mr Hugo Roger Martinez, said Britain’s aims coincided with the four main pillars of SICA’s integration process which focus on the trans-border challenges of security, climate change and disaster risk management, social integration and economic integration.

He added that acting as a regional bloc with a market of 40 million had already achieved dividends, including the first historic ‘bloc-to-bloc’ Association Agreement between the EU and SICA.

Foreign Office Minister for Latin America Jeremy Browne, Minister for Foreign Affairs of El Salvador Hugo Roger Martinez and Baroness Hooper