American Samoa wants more involvement at the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF).
It wants associate member status after being a Forum observer since 2011.
Discussions were held on 03 May involving the Governor Lemanu Mauga and the U.S State Department on how the territory could have more sway at the regional level.
The PIF is the region’s premiere political organisation with 18 countries and territories as members.
A statement from Governor Lemanu’s following the meeting with the U.S Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman said it was crucial for American Samoa to push for greater inclusion in this agency.
It said having a seat at the Forum would allow American Samoa to participate in important policy discussions and decision-making processes that directly impact on the territory.
The State Department was informed that as one of the U.S territories in the Pacific, American Samoa has often been hindered by bureaucratic issues and limited regional cooperation with its neighbouring island states.
Over the years, American Samoa’s isolation from regional decision-making has contributed to a lack of adequate representation and support on relevant issues including climate change, public health, and economic development.
“Having a seat at the Pacific Islands Forum would allow American Samoa to participate in important policy discussions and decision-making processes that directly impact the territory’s future in the Pacific,” the according to the statement from the Governor’s office.
“If granted the opportunity to become a PIF Associate member, American Samoa can make a valuable contribution to the region as a whole. Through active participation, American Samoa will be able to share its unique perspectives and experiences on various issues,” the statement concluded.
No information is available yet as to when the State Department plans to act on American Samoa’s request.
RNZ Pacific has also contacted the Forum for comment.
SOURCE: RNZ PACIFIC/PACNEWS