”]Washington, D.C. (June 23, 2011) – Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Kurt M. Campbell, accompanied by U.S. Pacific Fleet Commander Admiral Patrick M. Walsh, USAID Assistant Administrator Nisha Biswal and Office of the Secretary of Defense South/Southeast Asia Principal Director Brigadier General Simcock traveled to the Pacific Islands June 26 – July 1, 2011.
This unprecedented high-level trip demonstrates the United States’ enduring strategic commitment to the region and underscored the whole-of-government approach to enhancing U.S. bilateral political, economic, and security relations in the Pacific. In addition, the delegation engaged in discussions on enhancing the U.S. role and support for the Pacific Island Forum, and steps that the U.S. can take to enhance opportunities for American businesses seeking to invest in the Pacific.
The delegation arrived in Kiribati on June 27, where they met with President Anote Tong and other senior officials to discuss issues including climate change and economic development prospects. The group participated in a wreath laying ceremony.
The delegation continued on to Samoa, recrossing the dateline to arrive on June 26, to meet with Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi and other senior officials to discuss issues affecting South Pacific nations, including regional environmental programs and common efforts in international organizations. They also met private sector members and civil society representatives.
On June 28, the delegation traveled to Tonga, to meet with King George Tupou V, Prime Minister Tui’vakano, and other senior officials. They acknowledged the important contribution of Royal Tongan Marines in Afghanistan. In the Solomon Islands, the delegation met with Prime Minister Danny Philip and representatives from Solomon’s Foreign Ministry on June 29.
Besides holding talks on current issues affecting our two countries, the delegation laid wreaths at the World War II Guadalcanal American Memorial and conducted talks with the Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands.
On June 29, the delegation arrived in Papua New Guinea to meet with Acting Prime Minister Samuel Abal and Foreign Minister Ano Pala. Talks in Port Moresby were said to be particularly extensive, given PNG’s major roles in various international and Pacific fora. The delegation also met with American business officials who play an important part in the development of PNG’s energy sector.
The group departed the next day for Palau to meet with President Toribiong and his senior officials to discuss common views on global issues, and climate change and development issues. They also took the opportunity to meet with various civil society and business representatives.
On July 1, the delegation traveled to the Federated States of Micronesia to meet with President Emanuel Mori, tour Pohnpei State Hospital, and held roundtable discussions with civil society groups. On the same day, the delegation traveled to the Republic of the Marshall Islands where they met with senior leaders and members of civil society for talks on various economic developments, climate change, and other transnational issues.
The delegation expressed its appreciation for the service of Palauan, Micronesian, and Marshallese citizens in the Armed Forces of the United States, especially in Iraq and Afghanistan and returned to Washington, D.C. on July 2.