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Long Range Vessel for TT

By NEWSDAY REPORTER Wednesday, February 26 2014

click on pic to zoom in
INSPECTOR KAMLA: Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, accompanied by China's Premier Li Keqiang, yesterday inspected a guard of honour at the Great ...
INSPECTOR KAMLA: Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, accompanied by China's Premier Li Keqiang, yesterday inspected a guard of honour at the Great ...

CHINA has promised to deliver a Long Range Vessel (LRV) to the Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard, in the shortest possible time, after Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar yesterday held talks with that country’s Premier Li Keqiang.

“This is really good news,” Persad-Bissessar told Newsday after she announced details of her discussion. The Prime Minister, who is on an official State visit to China — the first by a TT PM in the past 30 years — said she was able to convince Premier Li Keqiang, that the Coast Guard needs two vessels to lock down TT’s borders in light of the increase in arms and narco trafficking.

Persad-Bissessar led a TT delegation to bilateral talks with the Chinese Premier and top officials of the Chinese Government at the Great Hall of the People in China’s capital Beijing yesterday.

Persad-Bissessar came to the table in Beijing with a list of proposals, hoping to convince her Chinese counterpart to assist.

“We are here today to further the partnership we started 40 years ago. I am hoping that you could use your good office to drive these projects,” the Prime Minister added.

The TT delegation also includes Minister of Foreign Affairs Winston Dookeran, Minister of Trade and Industry Vasant Bharath and Minister of Energy and Energy Affairs Kevin Ramnarine.

Persad-Bissessar said she is aware that China is building two LRVs and pleaded with Li Keqiang to sell one, “in the shortest possible time.”

Both the Governments of China and Trinidad and Tobago will sit down and deal with the financing aspect of the purchase. During a welcome ceremony yesterday, the Chinese Military Band played the TT National Anthem, which according to some members of the TT delegation, “sounded better than what is played at home.”

During a banquet hosted by the Chinese Premier, the Military Band played “Portrait of Trinidad and Tobago”, which prompted Persad-Bissessar to personally leave her table and speak to members of the band.

Back in 2010, the People’s Partnership cancelled the then PNM-government’s deal with Scotland-based shipbuilding company British Aerospace Engineering (BAE), for acquisition of three off-shore patrol vessels, at a cost of TT$1.5 billion.

At a news conference yesterday at his Port-of-Spain office, National Security Minister Gary Griffith was hesitant to speak on the Chinese LRV. “We need to ensure this is the right vessel and it would be difficult for me to make a statement until we get further information. I have no intention to buy a vehicle and then find out it is the wrong thing. The Coast Guard bought six vessels which were not the type for our water. We got 12 interceptors which are now all down. This was actually imposed on the Coast Guard without their input,” Griffith said.

Griffith said TT had a Maritime Security Plan which was not about just plying sources with assets, which would be of no use to the relevant authorities.

The minister said the principle behind a LRV was based on the concept of pieces of a puzzle locked in to secure TT’s borders, but could not work without the intelligence of local law enforcement.

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