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Welcome Reception Remarks

Ambassador Miriam K. Hughes

September 27, 2007

Thank you, Secretary Chigiyal.

Vice President Alik, Chief Justice Amaraich, Other Distinguished officials of the Government of the Federated States of Micronesia and the Pohnpei State Government; Fellow Members of the Diplomatic Corps; My Fellow Americans:

You have honored me with your presence this evening. Thank you for your warm welcome. With time, I hope to get to know all of you better. When Micronesians and Americans work in partnership to build a better future, we are all uplifted.

At this time, I am still the newcomer, having arrived in the FSM less than two weeks ago. The Continental Flight that I took from Guam touched down in Chuuk and then in Pohnpei on a mercifully clear day, September 5. The sunshine shone with brilliance on lush foliage, pearly rimmed atolls and hilly peaks. Pohnpei’s Lieutenant Governor, who happened to be seated next to me on the airplane, crowned my head with a fragrant halo of flowers, a mwaramwar. I knew I was in for an amazing experience.

The essence of any diplomatic experience at heart revolves around people-to-people relations, which is why this gathering means so much to me and my Embassy (and all our hardworking Embassy staff are here today.) My role, of course, is to represent the President and People of the United States of America in the FSM. In order to do this, I hope to reach out to as many people as possible.

The Mission of our Embassy in Kolonia is straightforward. There is no subtext or hidden agenda. We Americans are diverse in origin, but in practice we tend to be a pretty candid and pragmatic people. Our mission is: friendship and service. The policy priorities that Washington seeks to promote are Democratic Governance, Development, Peace and Security.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has launched an initiative called Transformational Diplomacy. This initiative is clearly aimed at helping others meet the emerging challenges that we face in the 21st century. Overseas, we are dedicating our efforts – and I will quote the Secretary of State here - “to help build and sustain democratic, well-governed states - states that will respond to the needs of their people, reduce poverty and conduct themselves responsibly in the international system.” Our security at home as Americans depends more than ever upon progress and stability in other regions. The United States cares deeply about the stability and prosperity of the Pacific region, where we have the State of Hawaii, three U.S. territories and vital, long-term ties through our former Trusteeship relations.

The FSM made a successful transition from American tutelage to sovereignty in 1986, and has since taken an active, constructive role on the world stage. At the UN, the Micronesian delegation advocates for human rights and skillfully articulates the needs of small island developing states. In a short span of time, Micronesia has made major political strides.

But a new and steeper road lies ahead. Without a vision for economic growth and sustainable development, sovereignty has a hollow ring, and a young nation can hit a dead end. Reflecting our own experience of what works for our people, the U.S. places high priority on private sector economic development.

Our diplomacy and foreign assistance in the Pacific are targeted to encourage transparency, land reform, sound financial management, and investment. These policies are the cornerstones of an architecture that empowers people and unleashes creativity. But the United States cannot and does not impose its policies on others. It is up to the Micronesians to weigh and decide what is best for your children and grandchildren.

As we expand our engagement in the Pacific, the United States will seek to be a positive influence and to help lay long-lasting foundations. In this way – freely, pragmatically and without coercion - we will share generously with our historic and trusted friends in the Federated States of Micronesia. We are proud to be your partner; it is a deep honor for me to assume an official mantle of friendship.