Director of CIA met President Ali and security officials during brief closely-guarded Guyana visit

Director of CIA met President Ali and security officials during brief closely-guarded Guyana visit

In a closely guarded visit to Guyana that lasted a few hours on Thursday, the Director of the US Central Intelligence Agency, William J. Burns met with President Irfaan Ali and top Guyana Security Officials.

The visit to Guyana was secretive, as there were no announcements of the visit before the CIA Director arrived, and information and photographs of his visit were only released by the President’s office after his departure.

The meeting between President Ali and the CIA Director took place at State House, with the President’s Office describing it as a courtesy visit.

News Source, however, understands that a number of security and other intelligence matters related to Guyana and the Caribbean and Latin America region were raised and discussed at the meeting.

President Irfaan Ali’s team at the meeting included, Prime Minister (Brigadier retired) Mark Phillips, Attorney General, Anil Nandlall, Home Affairs Minister Robeson Benn, Chief of Staff of the Guyana Defence Force, Brigadier Omar Khan, Head of National Intelligence, Colonel Sheldon Howell, Acting Police Commissioner, Clifton Hicken and Director of the Customs Anti Narcotics Unit, James Singh.

The CIA Director was accompanied to the meeting by US Ambassador Nicole D. Theriot and other senior Embassy and US Government officials.

The Government is tight-lipped about the meeting and has not released any details surrounding the issues that were discussed.

Earlier this week, the US Government through its local embassy signed an agreement with the Guyana Government, making an additional US$300,000 available to Guyana under the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative to combat a number of security challenges, including the trafficking of narcotics. 

At that ceremony, it was noted that the bilateral assistance is complimented by more than US$2.5 million in Caribbean Basin Security Initiative’s regional programming which is designed to promote regionalization.

“First, crime and illicit narcotics trafficking threaten Guyana’s security, stability, and economy and pose a direct threat to the national security of both our countries.  That’s why I’m pleased to announce the U.S. Embassy and INL will soon begin a capacity-building program with the U.S. DEA to bolster Guyana’s counternarcotics capacity to address the large amounts of cocaine transiting the country and to help the GPF provide critical casualty and trauma care for officers and community members in rural environments,” the U.S. Ambassador announced at the meeting.

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