U.S. Reaffirms Commitment with Pacific Island Tour
July 4, 2011
On July 1, U.S. Department of State Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Kurt M. Campbell, Commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet (PACFLT) Admiral Patrick M. Walsh, Brigadier General Richard L. Simcock, II, Principal Director of the Office of the Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Asia & Pacific, and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Assistant Administrator for Asia Nisha Desai Biswal visited Pohnpei State. The inter-agency visit was part of a six day Pacific Island tour which included Kiribati, Samoa, Tonga, Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, and the Freely Associated States, Republic of Palau, the FSM, and the Republic of the Marshall Islands. The U.S. senior leadership, embodying the U.S. “3-D” - Diplomacy, Defense and Development – approach to foreign policy, met with F.S.M. leadership and health and environmental communities to underscore the breadth and depth of the U.S.-F.S.M. relationship.
Upon arrival, the U.S. delegation traveled to Palikir for a call on F.S.M. President Emanuel “Manny” Mori, members of the Executive Cabinet, and other senior government officials. Accompanying the U.S. delegation were U.S. Ambassador to the F.S.M. Peter A. Prahar and Embassy representatives.
The U.S. delegation then called upon F.S.M. Congress Speaker Isaac Figir, Vice Speaker Berney Martin, and Senator Dohsis Halbert at the F.S.M. Congress Complex in Palikir.
Discussion with the F.S.M. National government highlighted the strong U.S.-F.S.M. relationship, especially the close defense and security relationship under Title III of the Compact of Free Association. Assistant Secretary Campbell thanked F.S.M. national leadership for the longstanding bi-lateral cooperation, reinforcing the U.S. commitment to the 3-D engagement with the F.S.M. through the Compact relationship and beyond.
Assistant Secretary Campbell cautioned F.S.M. on the potential impact of the F.S.M.'s Tier 3 ranking in the 2011 Trafficking-In-Persons Report. He warned that a failure to improve this ranking could limit the F.S.M.'s access to certain U.S. Government programs and funding. Both President Mori and Speaker Figir promised to move this session on anti-trafficking legislation. A/S Campbell welcomed this commitment and noted that full implementation and enforcement of any new legal framework would be equally important. The delegation further conferred about F.S.M. migration and Compact Impact in Hawaii and Guam and other parts of the U.S. In addition, Compact implementation, maritime security, climate change adaptation, and the new USAID Pacific Headquarters in Papua New Guinea were discussed. Admiral Walsh and Brigadier General Simcock expressed the expectation of a successful Pacific Partnership 2011 program in the F.S.M. and especially thanked F.S.M. leadership for the service of its citizens in the U.S. military. Additionally, Assistant Secretary Campbell looked forward to follow up at the Pacific Island Forum in Auckland in September, and promised to make this U.S. high-level Pacific Island Tour an annual event, including other U.S. government agencies.
In route to Kolonia, USAID Assistant Administrator Biswal visited the USAID disaster storage warehouse in Sokehs. As the lead U.S. agency providing disaster relief and reconstruction to the F.S.M., USAID stockpiles crisis response supplies for timely access. Additionally, the U.S. delegation viewed the newly-constructed Kolonia Elementary School. Completed last year, the Kolonia Elementary School was part of a three school, 4.5 million dollar Infrastructure Sector Grant under the Amended Compact.
Following the school visit, Campbell and his delegation were received by Pohnpei State Governor John Ehsa and Director of Health Services Dr. Elizabeth Keller at the Pohnpei State Public Hospital. Assistant Secretary Campbell, joined by Assistant Administrator Biswal, held a roundtable discussion with environmental non-government organization leaders from Micronesia Conservation Trust, The Nature Conservancy, Conservation Society of Pohnpei, and the Island Food Community of Pohnpei. The conversation highlighted NGO efforts to promote conservation at the local and regional levels, challenges faced by low-lying remote atolls, and tools and support available for effective conservation efforts.
Admiral Patrick Walsh and Brigadier General Simcock met with the advance team for the Pacific Partnership and toured Ohmine Elementary School, one of the sites slated for construction work next week when the USS Cleveland arrives.
Following these meetings, the entire U.S. delegation traveled to Pohnpei International Airport, where they met F.S.M. citizen U.S. Army Specialist HB Bermanis, who was injured while serving in Iraq in 2003.
Kurt Campbell became the Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs in June 2009. Dr. Campbell has served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asia and the Pacific, a Director on the National Security Council Staff, Deputy Special Counselor to the President for NAFTA in the White House, and White House fellow at the Department of the Treasury.
Admiral Patrick Walsh is the 32nd Navy officer to command PACFLT since its establishment in February 1941.
With headquarters at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, PACFLT is the world's largest fleet command, encompassing 100 million square miles and consisting of approximately 180 ships, nearly 2,000 aircraft and 125,000 Sailors, Marines and Civilians.
Brigadier General Simcock serves in Office of the Secretary of Defense, Asia and Pacific Affairs as the Principal Director, South and South East Asia. Previously, Simcock served as the Legislative Assistant to the Commandant at Headquarters U.S. Marine Corps.
Nisha Desai Biswal was sworn in as USAID's Assistant Administrator for Asia on September 20, 2010. Prior to her appointment, Biswal served as the Majority Clerk for the State Department and Foreign Operations Subcommittee on the Committee on Appropriations in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Upon departing Pohnpei State the U.S. delegation headed for the Republic of the Marshall Islands.