The Deputy Chief Minister Dr Joseph Garcia is in Washington where he will hold over twenty meetings with Members of Congress from both the Republican and Democratic parties. This is a continuation of the policy of the Government to put across the Gibraltar point of view on current issues to decision-makers in the United States of America.

The visit follows the gradual development of commercial and cultural links between Gibraltar and the United States over the last few years. This has included the successful establishment of an American Chamber of Commerce in Gibraltar and the establishment of the popular placement programme for Gibraltar students in Washington through The Washington Centre.

Last year saw a formal Congressional visit to Gibraltar under the UK MECEA programme.

Dr Garcia will take the opportunity of the visit to present Congressman George Holding with the Gibraltar Medallion of Honour, which award was unanimously approved by the Gibraltar Parliament in February.

Congressman Holding is the sponsor of a Resolution about Gibraltar in the House of Representatives which advocates the right of the people of Gibraltar to determine their own future. This resolution has to be re-tabled after each election to the House, and it was tabled again on 15 March, following the elections that took place last November. It is currently supported by 20 Members of the House of Representatives in total, belonging to both parties.

The Resolution refers to the decision to remain British taken by the people of Gibraltar in two referenda in 1967 and in 2002. It recalls the support provided by Gibraltar to the United States in a number of conflicts from the wars against the Barbary States in 1801 through to the Second World War when the Rock became General Eisenhower's headquarters for the invasion of North Africa.

The Deputy Chief Minister said that the next 48 hours were going to prove very hectic with back to back meetings and engagements. The visit would serve both to raise the profile of Gibraltar and to put across the Gibraltar point of view among the people who matter.