News Release

Republican Party of American Samoa PAGO PAGO, American Samoa Jan. 23, 2010


In the wake of the September 29 tsunami and the closing of the Chicken of the Sea cannery, American Samoa has never been in greater need of assistance from Washington.

So it was sad and shocking to see headlines in media outlets from Washington to the far corners of the Pacific saying that our delegate to Congress, in the words of the headlines, has "attacked," "condemned" and "criticized" the President and Secretary of State, the top leaders of our government and his own political party. Strong language to be sure.

It is not the place of the Republican Party of American Samoa to take sides in a family feud between Faleomavaega and President Obama and Secretary Clinton, but on other accounts his press release needs clarification.

In his release Faleomavaega states that "Secretary Clinton will be meeting with Australia, New Zealand, and Papua New Guinea while excluding some 15 Pacific Island leaders who could have gathered in one location to meet her. However, in fairness to Secretary Clinton, this is nothing new. The Bush and Clinton administrations also disregarded the needs and concerns of Pacific Island nations, as have most U.S. administrations."

In fairness to President Reagan and both Presidents Bush, it should be noted for the record that all three showed substantial interest in the Pacific Islands.

•President Reagan received Governor Coleman in the Oval Office in 1982 to discuss regional issues and the President offered to televise a welcoming statement to the South Pacific Conference being held in Pago Pago that year; this was the first time in history a U.S. president addressed Pacific Island leaders;

•In his Strategic Defense Initiative speech in March, 1983, President Reagan recognized the danger of the Soviet Union in the South Pacific; in the fall, he again addressed the South Pacific Conference in Saipan by video;

•Also in March, 1983 President Reagan proclaimed the 200-mile exclusive economic zones that dramatically transformed the Pacific; under his leadership the U.S. also successfully concluded the South Pacific Tuna Treaty that entered into force in 1988;•In October, 1990, President George H.W. Bush hosted a first-ever summit with South Pacific heads of government at the East-West Center in Honolulu with our own Governor Coleman as a member of his delegation; at the summit the U.S. and Pacific leaders established a joint commercial commission;

•During his term in office, President Bush received five Pacific Island heads of government in the Oval Office;

•In March, 2003, President George W. Bush addressed the Pacific Islands Conference of Leaders in Honolulu;

•In May, 2007, for the first time in history the U.S. hosted the Pacific Islands Conference of Leaders in Washington with Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice opening the meeting, declaring the year the "Year of the Pacific;"

•In July, 2008, Secretary of State Rice followed up by meeting with Pacific Island foreign ministers in Apia.

We do not view these gestures by these three presidents and Secretary Rice as being insignificant.

Meanwhile, in the past 21 years, particularly during the years of the Clinton administration, there has been a retrenchment of the U.S. presence in the region, with the closure of two USAID missions, elimination of all the United States Information Agency (USIA) centers and reduction of U.S. embassies in the islands. However, it also must be noted that the diminishment of U.S. visibility in the region has been directly proportional to the rise in our delegate’s prominence as a member of the House subcommittee that has jurisdiction over these matters.

Congressman Faleomavaega now is in his 11th term in office and is a very senior member of his party in the U.S. House of Representatives. His party controls the White House and, by overwhelming majorities, both Houses of Congress. He is the chairman of the House subcommittee that has authority over legislation that sets U.S. policy for the all of Asia and the Pacific Islands, the largest region on earth. Faleomavaega has developed expertise on Asia and Pacific issues as his specialty and he would be considered the most knowledgeable person in Congress on matters involving this region. The President is new in office and still enjoys widespread support. Therefore, it cannot be denied that Faleomavaega will never be more influential on U.S. policy in the South Pacific than he is right now.

If the President and Secretary Clinton choose not to consult with him on her itinerary in the region, invite him to accompany her on her trip, invite island leaders to attend her East West Center speech or address island issues in her speech, then it is up to Faleomavaega to help them see the error of their ways. We are not so sure that a press release is the best way to go about it.

(It should be noted that Secretary of State Clinton canceled her Pacific region visit, because of the Haiti earthquake disaster. She did give her East West Center speech that was reported in the Samoa News, Saturday, Jan. 19, 2010 edition.)

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