Gov Lemanu and other Pacific leaders meet with President Biden today
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Governor Lemanu P. S. Mauga left the territory this past Thursday night to attend the second U.S.- Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) Summit hosted by President Joe Biden at the White House. The summit takes place today, Monday, September 25, 2023 and continues tomorrow with Pacific leaders taking place in climate talks among other issues.
Biden’s summit is set to establish diplomatic relations with the Cook Islands and Niue, as his administration aims to show to Pacific Island leaders that it is committed to increasing American presence in the region.
Associated Press quotes White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre saying Biden would use the summit to strengthen “ties with the Pacific Islands and discuss how we address complex global challenges, like tackling the existential threat of climate change, advancing economic growth, and promoting sustainable development.”
Biden welcomed the leaders, including Gov. Lemanu to the White House this morning for talks and a working lunch. They also will meet with Biden’s special envoy on climate, John Kerry, for talks focused on climate change. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and U.N. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield will host the leaders at the State Department for a dinner.
Kerry and Samantha Power, administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, will host the leaders on Tuesday for climate talks with members of the philanthropic community. The leaders also plan to meet with members of Congress. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen will host a roundtable with the leaders and members of the business community.
The Governor’s Office said the summit is a means to seek pathways on how the United States can assist Pacific Islands.
“Governor Lemanu and our delegation look forward to contributing to the fruitful discussions and outcomes of this event,” the release said.
Lemanu appointed Lt Governor Talauega as Acting Governor in his absence.
UPDATE: President Joe Biden on Monday told leaders from the 18-member Pacific Islands Forum that he has heard their warnings about the impact of climate change on their region and that his administration is committed to helping them meet the challenge.
At the summit’s start, Biden said that his administration is requesting Congress approve $200 million in new assistance for the region, including financing to help the islands prepare for climate and natural hazards and improve infrastructure.
“I want you to know I hear you, the people in the United States and around the world hear you,” Biden told the leaders. “We hear your warnings of a rising sea and (that) they pose an existential threat to your nations. We hear your calls for reassurance that you never, never, never will lose your statehood, or membership of the U.N. as a result of a climate crisis. Today, the United States is making it clear that this is our position as well.”