Haiti, Dominican Republic discuss migration issues

PORT-AU-PRINCE (AFP) - Haitian and Dominican officials renewed talks on Tuesday after months of tension between the two Caribbean neighbours over migration and trade issues.

Representatives from the two states that share Hispaniola island met in the Haitian border city of Ouanaminthe for the first time since a Dominican court stripped citizenship from more than 250,000 Dominican-born offspring of undocumented Haitians in September, leaving them essentially country-less.

Venezuela brokered the talks on migration concerns, while the European Union, United Nations and the CARICOM regional body played an observatory role.

"While recognising the sovereign right of the Dominican Republic to determine its migratory policy and rules to obtain citizenship, the Haitian side has requested guarantees that tangible measures be taken to safeguard the fundamental human rights of the Haitian people," read a joint statement distributed by the Port-au-Prince government.

The two countries "reaffirmed their willingness to resolve the situation of foreign workers in the Dominican Republic. A visa will be granted to temporary workers on Dominican land," it added.

"The Haitian authorities vow to provide the necessary identification documents to these workers so they may complete the process." Santo Domingo and Port-au-Prince also agreed to boost trade ties in order to provide better access to products in both markets.

The senior officials agreed to hold bilateral talks on the first Monday of each month and seek solutions generated by the controversial Dominican ruling.

The next meeting is due to take place in the Dominican Republic on February 3.

Santo Domingo also announced that it planned to unveil additional legislation in the coming days that would help regulate the affected migrant population.

The Dominican court's ruling was condemned by regional and international organisations and triggered a diplomatic crisis.

CARICOM, in suspending the Dominican Republic's application to join the organization in November, threatened to present a resolution to the United Nations condemning the Dominican court ruling stripping citizenship from Dominican-born children of undocumented Haitians.

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