American Governor Lemanu Peleti Mauga is hopeful that progress will be made in the territory’s efforts to gain full membership in the Pacific Islands Forum, with the assistance of the U.S envoy to the PIF, Ambassador Frankie Reed.
In a communication earlier this year to the Assistant Secretary of State – Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Kritenbrink, Governor Lemanu stated, “It is time for American Samoa to have a seat at the Pacific Island Forum table and an active role in the discussions that affect our lives and the world around us.”
While American Samoa holds observer status within the PIF, it has never had the opportunity to actively participate in the forum’s meetings and decisions, despite its shared historic, cultural ties, and common challenges with its Pacific neighbors who enjoy full membership.
Lemanu said, “As the sole U.S Territory in the South Pacific, American Samoa holds valuable experience and relationships with neighboring island nations. Our participation as a vital PIF member would not only serve the interests of our people but contribute significantly to the advancement of the entire region.
“Furthermore, considering the absence of a U.S vote in the PIF, American Samoa can play a pivotal role by advocating for U.S interests in the forum, particularly in light of growing influences in the Pacific, including from China.”
The Governor underscored that other nations like France and New Zealand permit their Pacific territories to be full PIF members, aligning with the sentiment that the U.S. should extend a similar opportunity.
In a recent virtual meeting with members of the U.S State Department, Governor Lemanu said he looks forward to collaborating with Ambassador Reed, to bring about American Samoa’s desire to be a full member of the Forum.
SOURCE: TALANEI NEWS/PACNEWS