U.S. AMBASSADOR TO FIJI TARGETS ENVIRONMENTAL PROBLEMS

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Global warming, overfishing biggest Pacific threats

SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, Nov. 5, 2008) – The new ambassador to Fiji and other smaller Pacific island states, Steven McGann, made his first public address in Suva today, pledging to prioritize environment issues.

On the day the US elected its first black President, McGann told close to 100 invited guests to his Sukuna Road residence that environmental degradation poses a critical challenge more important than anything else in the Pacific Region.

"Many are low lying atolls vulnerable to the effects of rising sea level. Over fishing threatens marine resources and hits hard in the Pacific because these island states depend on fish stock not only for sustenance but as a major source of government revenue."

McGann, an Afro-American whom the embassy stressed is not a political appointment by the Bush administration, said he will also focus on issues such as economic growth, enhancing maritime security and promoting democracy.

Following the confirmation of Obama as US President on the two TV screens on his lawn, McGann joked: "I now can look forward to some more years in Fiji".

"I plan to lead the Office of Australia, New Zealand and Pacific Island Affairs to reinforce US relationships with Fiji," he added.

Then McGann gave some food for thought for Fiji’s voters, albeit indirectly.

"This is a great day about promoting democracy. Americans believe deeply in political freedom. Our political system has built a strong, stable and prosperous nation. Most importantly, our constitution demands civilian control over the military and our military enthusiastically pledges to uphold our constitution without question."

Fijilive

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