Heads of Pacific Diplomatic Missions Roundtable Meeting with US Deputy Secretary of State

10th August 2022
US Deputy Secretary of State, H.E. Wendy R. Sherman delivering her remarks to the Pacific diplomatic heads of missions
On Tuesday 9th August 2022, the Samoa High Commission hosted the US Deputy Secretary of State (H.E. Wendy R. Sherman) and her Delegation in a Roundtable Meeting with the Heads of Pacific Island Diplomatic Missions in New Zealand. The New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade assisted in organising and facilitating the Meeting which was held in the new Samoa High Commission Chancery. Mr. Chris Seed, Secretary of New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Trade also attended and opened the Meeting, following brief introduction of the Participants. Mr Seed was accompanied by several Senior Officials from NZ MFAT.

The Samoa High Commissioner (H.E. Leasi Papali’i Scanlan), in his role as Chairman, said the Opening Prayer and welcomed the US Deputy Secretary of State on behalf of the other Pacific Heads of Missions from: Niue, Cook Islands, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea. H.E. Leasi Papali’i Scanlan opened the discussion with his short remarks, thanking the Deputy Secretary for visiting some of the Pacific Island countries, including his country Samoa, during her current trip to the Region. Her Excellency’s High-level visit to the Pacific is a positive sign that the US is intending to return and work more closely with other Development Partners to assist in the development of the Island Countries.

Leasi then referred to the Deputy Secretary’s recent discussions in Samoa with Prime Minister Hon. Fiame Naomi Mata’afa where issues such as: COVID-19, climate change, border and cyber-security, post-COVID economic recovery, fisheries, the Blue Pacific and renewable energy were again highlighted as matters of critical importance, not only for Samoa but also for other Small Pacific Island Developing States. The Samoa High Commissioner acknowledged the support of the US through the newly established Blue Pacific Initiative as well as the proposed increased funding under the US South Pacific Tuna Treaty. His Excellency then noted that ‘the challenge for many Small Pacific Island States is securing much-needed financial resources to implement appropriate policy initiatives to enhance our individual countries’ social and economic developments. At the same time, we accept that care must be taken to ensure that each country’s sovereign status as well as our financial and political integrity are maintained’.

Each Pacific Head of Mission was then given the opportunity to convey their remarks on issues pertinent to their relationship with the United States of America. In their remarks, the High Commissioners relayed their warm welcome to the Deputy Secretary and their appreciation of the US’s return to the Pacific Region. Their Excellencies elaborated on the issues raised by the Samoa High Commissioner as common to the Region and then highlighted a number of more specific matters that their countries would like further bilateral discussion with the US Administration.

The Roundtable Meeting concluded with the Samoa High Commissioner relaying, on behalf of the Pacific Island Heads of Mission and Representatives, his sincere appreciation to the Deputy Secretary of State for making time to meet with the PIHOM despite her very busy program. Leasi wished Her Excellency safe travels home and expressed the hope that the United States of America’s return to the Pacific Region will be reflected in more substantial assistance for the development of the Small Island States’ economies. H.E. Wendy R. Sherman concluded the Meeting by thanking the Pacific High Commissioners and NZ MFAT for meeting with her and her Delegation and wished their Excellencies and their countries all the very best in the challenging period ahead.