Statement by the Deputy Secretary of State, Wendy R Sherman – (05 August 2022)

August 5, 2022

SAMOA, August 5 - Prime Minister Fiame thank you so much for the incredibly warm welcome to Samoa

It is an incredible honor and pleasure to be here in the first month of Samoa’s international borders opening again after more than two years of the COVID-19 pandemic.

I want to congratulate you madam Prime Minister for Samoa’s capable management of the pandemic. The United States is proud to work with Samoa to share more than 45,000 doses of safe, effective, and lifesaving COVID-19 vaccines with the Samoan people in partnership with COVAX.

I am thrilled to start my trip to the region here in Samoa which is the United States Pacific Island neighbor, our strong partner, and our good friend. Our two countries share a commitment to important democratic values including respect for human rights, a commitment to protecting freedom of expression, and freedom of religion or belief and a strong belief in the importance of a free and open Press.

The Prime Minister and I just had a very productive discussion about the partnership between the United States and Samoa. I reiterated the United States support for a strong and united Pacific Islands Forum and expressed our gratitude for the PIF’s generous invitation to Vice President Harris to virtually address the Forum last month.

Indeed the President of the United States is looking forward to welcoming Pacific Island leaders to the White House in September around the UN General Assembly, we hope to announce a date very soon.

We talked about our continuing work together to address the COVID-19 pandemic and to combat the climate crisis which poses a profound threat to people everywhere and especially in the Pacific Islands. We discussed the partnership between Samoa and the U.S. Coast Guard, to conduct security patrols of Samoa’s EEZ as part of our collective effort to combat illegal unregulated and unreported fishing which damages the ocean environment and undermines Samoa’s economy.

We discussed how the new partners in the Blue Pacific initiative which was recently launched by the United States, Australia, Japan, and New Zealand, and the United Kingdom will help us better coordinate our work with Pacific island partners on the challenges we all face from climate change to economic development, to maintaining a free and open Indo-Pacific.

We talked about the importance of education, and we are so glad for the success of the first in person young pacific leader’s conference in two years which took place in July and included Samoan representatives. The young Pacific leaders programme builds connections between the next generations of leaders in the United States, the Pacific Islands, New Zealand, and Australia because we all know the best way to solve the challenges we face and build a better future for the region and the world is by working together and educating our young people.

I told the Prime Minister that the United States looks forward to soon returning Peace Corps volunteers to Samoa. The office has been open but because of the pandemic we have not had the volunteers. Over the last 55 years more than 2,000 Peace Corps volunteers have served in Samoa, an incredible symbol of the partnership and friendship between our people.

Above all, I am here in Samoa and in the region to listen to and learn from our Pacific sisters and brothers. We are one Pacific family bound together by our history our values, our culture and our shared priorities, and there is no limit to what we can achieve when we come together as partners.

Thank you again madam Prime Minister for welcoming me and my delegation so warmly. I look forward to our continued friendship.