The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) is a model of how close cooperation can enhance economic growth and promote better relations among countries, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan said in a message to CARICOM leaders meeting this week in Grenada. Mr. Annan said the emerging collaboration of CARICOM’s 15 members on many issues of joint interest should inspire all regions, especially islands and coastal nations, about the potential benefits to their economies and to greater harmony among nations. “It can be instrumental in bringing about the peace and stability and attaining the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs),” he added, referring to the eight targets adopted at a UN summit in 2000. The MDGs include pledges to halve extreme poverty and to slash child and maternal mortality rates by 2015. The Secretary-General urged CARICOM to channel that spirit of cooperation into tackling the scourge of HIV/AIDS. One of the MDGs is a promise to halt the epidemic’s spread. “The Caribbean has some of the highest rates of HIV infection in the world, and the epidemic is taking a devastating toll on development,” he said in the message, which was delivered on Monday by Anwarul K. Chowdhury, High Representative for the Least Developed, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States. CARICOM’s Conference of Heads of Government began on Sunday and finishes tomorrow.