President Emanuel Mori Starts Busy UNGA Program in New York with Side Meeting with Secretary Hillary Clinton
New York (FSM Permanent Mission to the UN): 22 September 2009 - President Emanuel Mori arrived in New York yesterday, 20 September 2009, to participate in the annual general debates of the United Nations General Assembly and other activities scheduled at the margins of the 64th Session of the UNGA.
To start on Wednesday, 23 September, the UNGA general debates will be preceded by a meeting of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) on Monday, 21 September 2009, focusing on Climate Change, and a Summit on Climate Change that will be held the following day, Tuesday, 22 September 2009, under the sponsorship of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. The emphasis on Climate Change is consistent with the high priority that the FSM Government has continued to place on the subject as a matter of FSM policy.
The first order of official business for the President after arriving in New York was a meeting between US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the Pacific islands heads of states and senior officials. The meeting with Clinton is historic insofar as it is the first time that a US secretary of state meets with Pacific islands heads of state at the margins of the annual UNGA.
Senior US officials who joined Clinton in her meeting with the Pacific island officials included recently confirmed Assistant Secretary of State for East-Asia and Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell; Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs Phillip J. Crowley; Acting Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor Karen Stewart; Deputy Special Envoy for Climate Change Jonathan Pershing; US Permanent Representative to the UN, Ambassador Susan E. Rice; and Director of the Office of Australia, New Zealand and Pacific Island Affairs Alcy R. Frelick.
Aside from President Mori, the other Pacific island officials who participated in the meeting with Clinton were the Presidents of Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu. The others were the Foreign Ministers of Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands as well as the Ambassador/Permanent Representative of Samoa to the United Nations.
In her statement, Clinton expressed appreciation to the Pacific Small Island Developing States (PSIDS) for their "extraordinary coordination of support at the United Nations" on a number of priority issues for the US. Recognizing the growing vulnerability of the PSIDS by the negative impacts of Climate Change, she conveyed the intention of the US Government "to do all we can do for the region." The US would also sympathetically consider the desirability of re-engaging the US in the region by redeploying the USAID and the Peace Corps program or expanding their presence in the Pacific islands.
For several years now, the Pacific island governments have sought access to the US-funded Millennium Challenge Account but have encountered difficulties and setbacks. So far, Vanuatu is the only Pacific island country receiving funding assistance from the MCA. Clinton stated that the US would look into the issue of "relaxing the requirements" or eligibility criteria for the MCA funds, taking into consideration of the special circumstances of the Pacific island countries. Reiterating the vulnerability of the Pacific islands, she further noted the need for accelerated and expanded exploration of appropriate renewable and alternative energy sources for the Pacific island countries and the need for sustainable conservation of the region's fisheries resources and for strengthened efforts to addressing the problem of illegal fishing operations in the central and western Pacific.
Speaking in his capacity as Chair of the PSIDS, President Marcus Stephen of Nauru called the meeting with Clinton an "overwhelming positive change [that] truly marks the beginning of a new era in US-Pacific relations." Stephen went on to say that the Pacific island leaders are encouraged by statements made by Clinton earlier in Washington DC before the US House Committee on Foreign Affairs "regarding the need for a comprehensive American approach to the Pacific region and we are happy to see that you have followed your words with action."
In his intervention, President Mori thanked the North American countries - the US, along with Canada and Mexico -- for supporting an amendment to the Montreal Protocol jointly sponsored by the FSM and Mauritius aimed at significantly reducing other ozone-depleting greenhouse gases, such as hydroflourocarbons or HFCs, methane, and black carbon. In thanking Secretary Clinton for supporting a creative alternative energy program for the vulnerable PSIDS, Mori also encouraged the US to address the long-standing need of the PSIDS for appropriate technology to respond effectively to the adverse effects of climate change.
President Mori was accompanied to the meeting with Clinton by Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Lorin S. Robert.