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‘PACIFIC PRESIDENT’ OBAMA SENDS AID TO SAMOA Goodwill mission focus on health, education

By Patricia Ropati

APIA, Samoa (Samoa Observer, July 3, 2009) - The links to the Pacific of President Barack Obama were highlighted at the launch of the Pacific Partnership 2009 Mission, a United States aid project, yesterday.

Mr. Obama is the first ‘Pacific President’ of the United States, said U.S. Charge d΄Affaires, Robin L. Yeager, who yesterday launched the mission.

"I’d go further and say, the first ‘Polynesia’ US President," Ms Yeager said of the Hawai΄i-born-and-raised Obama.

"The motivations for Pacific Partnership are easy to understand," she said. "As was said recently by the new Assistant Secretary for East Asian/Pacific Affairs, Kurt Campbell, ‘There should be no doubt that the United States itself is a Pacific nation. We’re proud to include among our countrymen the people of Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands."

Ms Yeager yesterday welcomed the ship USNS Richard E. Byrd and her crew, who bring aid materials under the partnership mission.

"Particularly poignant as we greet the ship’s arrival today, we recognize that thousands of Pacific Islanders, including natives of Hawaii and the U.S. Territories, and many Samoans are serving in the U.S. military."

Ms Yeager said the partnership presents an opportunity to strengthen US-Samoa ties in health and education.

In the next three months, the USNS Richard E. Byrd will ship health and engineering assistance to the Marshalls, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Kiribati and Samoa.

"The engineering projects will focus on schools and health facilities."

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