Following up on my prior post … I am happy to report that our delegation had a very productive visit to Samoa. Despite having had an exceptionally long day in Kiribati, Assistant Secretary Kurt Campbell, Admiral Patrick Walsh, USAID Assistant Administrator Nisha Biswal, Brigadier General Richard Simcock, and the rest of the team hit the ground running upon arrival in Apia.

Kicking off the visit with dinner with the Deputy Prime Minister and other Samoan leaders.

Launching the visit with a toast at dinner with the Deputy Prime Minister and other Samoan leaders.

I met the team at Faleolo Airport when their plane touched down at 6:30 pm, and we drove directly to Tanoa Tusitala Hotel for cocktails and dinner. The distinguished guests in attendance included the Deputy Prime Minister Honorable Fonotoe Pierre Lauofo Meredith, Minister of Environment Honorable Faamoetauloa Faale Tumaalii, other Members of Parliament, Ministry and agency CEOs, civil society leaders, and a few of our Aussie and Kiwi friends.

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I am pleased to be back in Samoa for the second time in a month … this time to meet a high-level US delegation arriving from Washington. Leading the delegation is my good friend Dr Kurt Campbell, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs. With him will be Admiral Patrick Walsh (Commander of the US Pacific Fleet), Nisha Biswal (Assistant Administrator of USAID), Brigadier General Richard Simcock (Principal Director of the Office for South/Southeast Asia), and several others.

Assistant Secretary Kurt M. Campbell.

Asst Secretary Dr. Kurt Campbell.

During the trip the team will meet with government officials, NGO leaders, entrepreneurs, veterans, scientists, and members of the general public in Samoa and seven other island nations.

Discussions will focus on the full range of issues of concern to those of us whose homelands touch the waters of the Pacific … including fisheries security, climate change, sustainable economic development, disaster planning, humanitarian relief, support for civil society, renewable energy R&D, regional political issues, and donor nation coordination.

Also on the agenda will be the Pacific Island Forum (to be held in Auckland just before the Rugby World Cup this September), as well as American business investment in the Pacific and ways to increase mutually beneficial business opportunities.

The composition of the delegation and the diversity of the agenda illustrate America’s “3D” commitment to robust engagement in the Pacific … through Diplomacy, Development, and Defense. We already have strong bilateral political, economic, and security relationships in our shared Pacific neighborhood. The current trip will take a broad inter-agency approach to building further on that firm foundation.

The journey started yesterday in Kiribati, where the delegation met with President Anote Tong for discussions focused on climate change and economic development prospects. There were wreath-laying ceremonies at a World War II monument and cemetery to commemorate the immense sacrifices made by Americans during the Battle of Tarawa and elsewhere in the Pacific in the service of peace, stability, and self-determination.

The delegation

As I write this, the delegation is en route from Kiribati to meet me here in Samoa, arriving in time for dinner. We will launch the visit with an outdoor banquet for senior officials and other community leaders, so that the American team can get a sense of the diversity and vibrancy of Samoan society in a festive, casual environment.

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