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Togiola to meet Secretary of State in brief visit

By Fili Sagapolutele PAGO PAGO, American Samoa, (Samoa News, Nov. 6, 2010) - Governor. Togiola Tulafono will lead a small local delegation to greet United States Secretary Hillary Clinton when she arrives in Pago Pago on Sunday for a brief stopover en route to Washington D.C. following her Asia-Pacific trip with the last stop in Australia.

[PIR editor’s note: Togiola Tulafono is the current Governor of American Samoa after being re-elected in 2004. He is a member of the Democratic Party and a former Lieutenant Governor in 1997.]

Togiola said yesterday that Clinton communicated from Washington D.C before traveling to the Pacific and extended an invitation to the Governor and First Lady Mary Ann to come on board her aircraft on arrival at airport.

In turn, the Governor said he extended the invitation to disembark her plane for a brief visit in the Governor’s Lounge. Togiola said he is thankful that Clinton accepted the invitation and giving him the opportunity to introduce and meet the leaders of American Samoa and also to discuss prevailing issues that are before the U.S. Department of State.

"I am very grateful to Secretary Clinton to allow us to host her on the ground at our airport. We are very thankful that she will step onto American Samoa soil and see our cultural and traditional presentation," the governor said in a brief statement yesterday.

In preparation for Clinton’s visit, Togiola met this week with officials of the Department of Public Safety, Homeland Security, Port Administration, and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) regarding security preparation at the Tafuna airport. Togiola also met Samoan Affairs Secretary Tufele Li’amatua on cultural protocol, reception, oratory, traditional presentation and the ava ceremony which will be part of the arrival program.

There will be a gift presentation presented by Togiola on behalf of the people of American Samoa to the former U.S. first lady, according to the governor’s office.

Due to tight security and limited time on the ground, the governor’s local invitation was limited to Faoa, Chief Justice Michael Kruse, the Fono leaders, Tufele and the District Governors.

"We waited to release the information of Secretary of State’s trip until the diplomatic security arrived Thursday night. They have arrived and have met with our local security departments and personnel," said Togiola, who added that he has been briefed on the final arrangements.

The Governor said he is happy with the secured environment and the planning and preparation, which is being coordinated by the governor’s office.

"We hope Secretary Clinton enjoys her brief visit to American Samoa," he said.

Clinton was in New Zealand yesterday and was heading for Australia before returning to the U.S. mainland with the stop in American Samoa, which was first requested last year by Congressman Faleomavaega Eni, who is expected to be at the airport as well.

Clinton’s actual arrival time is unclear at this time, and depends on her schedule.

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