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Samoa Meet Strengthens US-Pacific Nation Relations

Rt Hon Winston Peters
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
New Zealand

Secretary Of State Condoleezza Rice's Samoa Meeting Strengthens U.S. Relations With Region

A new chapter of US relations with Pacific Forum nations is set to begin following Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's meeting with regional counterparts in Samoa today, Foreign Minister Winston Peters said.

"This was an historic opportunity for the United States' Secretary of State to meet with Pacific Forum Ministers in an informal setting on their home turf. Never before has a meeting of this sort taken place," said Mr Peters.

"A conscious decision was taken to avoid a prescriptive formal agenda today. The discussions ranged over a number of issues of mutual concern.

"Secretary Rice highlighted her strong support for the efforts of the Forum to address key challenges, like the current situation in Fiji.

"Discussions covered pressing issues that all Pacific countries are having to grapple with, such as rising fuel and food prices, and climate change. Views were exchanged about possible strategies to deal with these challenges.

"Conversations like the one today are an important way of highlighting to the US the vulnerabilities facing Forum island nations, and how we are working together to address these issues with our international partners.

"The US is well placed to develop closer relations with Forum nations. It already has strong links with the Compact States in Micronesia, as well as its Pacific territories of Guam and American Samoa.

"Today's meeting showed that despite the massive expanse of ocean it covers, and its rich diversity, the wider Pacific is one family facing common development challenges, and there is scope for the US to work even more closely with the region."

Mr Peters thanked Samoa's Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, and his officials for their role in hosting and organising the meeting between Forum Foreign Ministers and the US Secretary of State.

"Samoa and New Zealand share very close ties and we are delighted to have collaborated to bring this initiative to fruition," Mr Peters said.

ENDS

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