US Ambassador Suggests Promotion Of Vanuatu Military Dump Site

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North favors creating WWII Monument not clean-up of Million Dollar Point

By Len Garae and Gabriel Vusilai

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, March 5, 2014) – "I am told that Santo is one of the best dive spots in the world because of Million Dollar Point and the President Coolidge Wreck. So I guess that crazy act to leave all that (machinery from WW2) there at Million Dollar Point turned out to be a good thing after all. I hope all stakeholders can develop that to create jobs and income opportunities for the people of Vanuatu."

Port Moresby-based US Ambassador to PNG, Solomons and Vanuatu Walter North made the remarks in a joint interview on his visit to Port Vila last week.

In an earlier visit last year, Ambassador Walter North went snorkeling while in Luganville.

"I had the privilege of snorkeling at Million Dollar Point. On the one hand I feel tremendously sad to see all that material that was left there, you would hope it would have been translated and left to be put to good use. I feel sad that we did not think of using the stuff to promote human development. Ironically, it is an incredible site", he says.

Instead of admitting that the US Government has a duty to correct what it has done wrong to the people of Santo and Vanuatu by dumping all the machinery at Million Dollar Point, the Ambassador looks on the bright side of life by explaining that he has already met with tour operators and other stakeholders in the Northern Town about the possibility of creating a WW2 Monument on the site.

He says such a monument has to be seen to be created, built and managed by the local tour operators, landowners and people of Santo in order for them to take pride it knowing that they own it.

Asked how he would feel if the stakeholders set up the monument and ask the US Government to launch it, he replies, "I think someone would be tempted to participate in the process."

On Vanuatu’s relationship with the United States, Ambassador North says President Obama and his Administration are very committed to the Pacific and to Vanuatu.

"Vanuatu is very important to the security and the future of this Region. We too are a Pacific Nation so having a strong prosperous Vanuatu in enjoying inclusive sustainable economic growth is good for you but it’s also good for the United States", he says.

While he has yet to meet with Women’s Leaders at the time of the interview he says, "What I have heard from women leaders here is that first you have to have inclusive sustainable growth and you can’t have that without having women. I have a good fortune to go down to Tanna, to Santo and been round Efate to see so many inspirational women demonstrating what can be achieved if men can get out of the way to give the woman the chance. I hear from them that they get some encouragement from some men but it is not an easy path. So when I meet these inspirational ladies, I ask them, ‘What can we do to help as a good friend concerning the future of this country?’ And they say, ‘You can help us to witness for inclusiveness, for an educational opportunity for women as well as men and for making sure that both are participating in the economy. And also it is an issue in the United States but it is also a huge issue here associated with substance abuse alcohol abuse and a lot of violence to women. This is something which in my country, we have taken a lot of steps over the last decades to address it and to affirmatively overcome it from happening because we all have mothers. I have a sister, I have a daughter. It is therefore not acceptable that women should be treated as less of a human. And so we want to stand with women in solidarity here to address the issue and do something about it."

On Port Vila Municipality and Shefa Provincial Council reserve seats for women, the Ambassador says, "There are different ways to address this issue and I applaud the Government for taking this initiative and I hope it results in helping men to listen to women to address those issues that matter to them. I welcome the initiative.

"I met with the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition."

On Efate Ring Road he says, "It is a very successful endeavour and I want to thank the Government and people of Vanuatu to have made it happen. There is no second Millennium Project for Vanuatu in sight."

On Climate Change and if the US is providing any financial contributions, he says, "President Obama says we have to look forward and we care about the generations that come after us. If we want to give them a world that can keep on giving by giving us livelihoods that can sustain ourselves and our grandchildren and so we have to do something about climate change."

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