See below full joint statement from President Irfaan Ali and his Surinamese counterpart, President Chandrikapersad Santokhi:
At the invitation of His Excellency the President of the Republic of Suriname, His Excellency Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali, President, and Her Excellency Arya Ali, First Lady, of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana paid a four-day Official Visit to the Republic of Suriname from 23-26 November 2020 as Special Guests on the commemoration of the 45th Anniversary of the Independence of the Republic of Suriname.
His Excellency Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali addressed the Extraordinary Sitting of the National Assembly of the Republic of Suriname and delivered a congratulatory message to the National Assembly, the Government of His Excellency President Chandrikapersad Santokhi and the People of Suriname from the Government and People of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana. During his message, the President Ali saluted Suriname’s cultural diversity and the pride that the Surinamese people take in that diversity. He underscored that in today’s world there is a growing interest in the dangerous heightening of differences amongst nationalities and ethnic communities which are threats to the maintenance of both international peace and security and unity at the national level. President Ali noted that Suriname has a rich history of unity and rightly celebrates that unity with diversity as its core.
Their Excellencies the Presidents of Guyana and Suriname, respectively, took the opportunity of the presence of the Hon. Hugh Todd, M.P., Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation; the Hon. Mohabir Nandlall, M.P., Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs; the Hon. Juan Edghill, M.P., Minister of Public Works; and the Hon. Zulfikar, Mustapha, M.P., Minister of Agriculture of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana to advance their discussions on strengthening the bonds of friendship, cooperation and solidarity between their two countries. In that context, Their Excellencies Santokhi and Dr. Ali were pleased to witness the signing of the Formation Agreement for Strategic Dialogue and Cooperation and reaffirmed their commitment to be personally engaged to ensure that the agreed areas of bilateral cooperation are implemented smoothly and effectively for the mutual benefit of their peoples.
His Excellency the President of the Republic of Suriname was accompanied by the Vice President, His Excellency Ronnie Brunswijk and their Excellencies Albert Ramdin, Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Business and Cooperation; Riad Nurmohamed, Minister of Public Works and Communication; Parmanand Sewdien Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Animal Husbandry and Kenneth Amoksi, Minister of Justice and Police.
The Presidents expressed their gratitude to the Ministers and officials for advancing their ideas for a positive and effective framework for cooperative relations between Guyana and Suriname in the areas of foreign relations, public infrastructure and transport, health, the environment, oil and gas, education, agriculture, trade, security, tourism, culture, youth and sport and private sector initiatives.
Both Presidents underscored the critical role that a bridge across the Corentyne River could play in advancing cooperation and joint activities and ventures in all the areas mentioned. In that context, the Presidents received an update on the work being done by the technical working group to prepare the groundwork for the realisation of the construction of the bridge. The two Presidents were also pleased to witness the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding on the proposed construction of a bridge across the Corentyne River.
The two Presidents took note of the issues on the CARICOM agenda and agreed to work together to advance the interests of the Community since the future of all its members is intertwined.
The issue of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is having on the globe was discussed by the Presidents and they took note of the recent development of vaccines to prevent the contraction of the novel corona virus. They both pledged to work together with sympathetic States, governments, NGOs and multilateral institutions to ensure that developing countries and the poor have access to the vaccines and called on the developed world to ensure that there are sufficient supplies to the developing world and the poor. It was agreed that both Suriname and Guyana will continue to work in solidarity to contain the spread of COVID-19. Both sides agreed that as soon as it is safe to do so, the border between the two countries will be opened, but that the health and safety of the general population of both States must take precedence over the reopening of the border.
His Excellency the President of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana thanked His Excellency the President of the Republic of Suriname for his kind invitation to be part of the celebrations to mark the 45th Anniversary of the Independence of the Republic of Suriname. He conveyed his appreciation to his Surinamese counterpart for the kindness and hospitality offered to himself, the First Lady and other members of the Guyana delegation and expressed his confidence that the hard-working and united people of the Republic of Suriname will have even more reasons to celebrate the independence of their country in the years to come.