A Benefit of Summitry

Jennifer Jeffs, Senior Vice President, Canadian International Council and Deputy Executive Director and Senior Fellow, CIGI

The OAS has brought in a team of 68 interpreters for today’s bilateral meetings between country leaders, demonstrating the importance attached to facilitating dialogue between country heads. There is great consensus amongst the Ministers and Deputy Ministers about the value of these face-to-face meeting between Leaders and Ministers that the best way for any of them to start dealing with a “situation” – diplomatic, economic, security related, etc. – is to pick up the phone to speak to a counter-part whom they have met, with whom they conversed and established some kind of relationship. Watching the leaders arrive yesterday one could not help but be struck by the enormity of the gulfs between so many of them and the stretch to think of commonalities between countries as geographically and culturally distant as, for example, Antigua and Chile, or Brazil and Jamaica. Yet even culturally diverse and distant neighbours will face common issues such as personal security and organized crime, energy and environmental concerns, health and education standards for their populations. An opportunity for direct and honest information and opinion sharing is only one of the benefits of summitry. But it is an important one.

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