Saturday 31st December, 2005


Combat ’copters coming to T&T

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Cabinet yesterday decided to purchase attack helicopters from Israel. Multiple Cabinet sources indicated that the decision was made at an extraordinary Cabinet meeting held yesterday at Whitehall.

The meeting began at 1 pm and ended just around 4 pm.

There was no post-Cabinet press conference.

For some time now Prime Minister Patrick Manning had promised to buy helicopters with attack capabilities and sources said the purchase was one of the main reasons for Manning’s visit to the Jewish state in November.

The Guardian has confirmed that a note was taken to Cabinet two weeks ago and sent to the finance and general purposes committee of the Cabinet. The committee eventually agreed to the purchase and sent it back to Cabinet, which met today to approve it.

Cabinet which is the grouping of MPs and senators that hold ministerial posts sets government policy and normally meets on a Thursday at Whitehall was not set to meet until early 2006.

It had not met last week and was not originally scheduled to do so this week.

However, a source said yesterday’s meeting was not unusual as the Cabinet has in the past met just before year’s end to clear up its agenda.

“The meeting is to approve certain things that are necessary before the new year,” a source said.

After yesterday’s Cabinet meeting Manning taped his New Year’s Day message which is to be aired on television tonight.

Manning is expected to speak about the nation’s record high crime rate and other national issues.

Background: The Trinidad and Tobago Regiment has in the past purchased significant military equipment from Israel including its standard attack weapon the Galilee assault rifle.

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