Date: August 8, 2019
WASHINGTON - U.S. Secretary of the Interior David L. Bernhardt will lead a U.S. government delegation—comprised of senior officials from the White House, U.S. Department of State, U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI), the U.S. Coast Guard, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the U.S. Agency for International Development—to participate at the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) Leaders Session with Forum Dialogue Partners on August 16, 2019 in Tuvalu.
"It is a privilege to lead the United States delegation as a Forum Dialogue Partner to meet with the Pacific Island leaders at the 50th Pacific Islands Forum in Tuvalu," said Secretary Bernhardt. “As President Trump emphasized in his recent meeting at the White House with the presidents of the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau, stability, security, and prosperity in the Pacific region is important to the United States and Pacific Island nations. Through the important historical relationships we have with the freely associated states, and ties in the Pacific through the U.S. territories, and the state of Hawai’i, the United States maintains its stance to support and respect Pacific Island nations in their efforts to protect their political and economic sovereignty.”
The Pacific Islands and the United States share a vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific region, and the high-level participation by the United States as a Forum Dialogue Partner, led by Secretary Bernhardt, highlights the nation’s commitment to the Pacific Islands. The United States is focused on advancing regional order based on respect for sovereignty, the rule of law, and the principles of free, fair, and reciprocal trade.
The PIF is the region’s premier political and economic policy organization with 18 members - Australia, Cook Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, French Polynesia, Kiribati, Nauru, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Niue, the Republic of Palau, Papua New Guinea, the Republic of Marshall Islands, Samoa, the Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu. The PIF organizes an annual meeting at the Ministerial level with 18 Forum Dialogue Partners which includes Canada, the People’s Republic of China, Cuba, the European Union, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Malaysia, the Philippines, Spain, Thailand, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
At the PIF, Secretary Bernhardt will present formal remarks on behalf of the United States to the Pacific Island leaders on issues of regional and global importance, including regional security cooperation, the global DPRK pressure campaign, resilience to environmental challenges, combating illegal fishing, and sustainable development. In addition, the Secretary will hold multiple bilateral meetings with Pacific Island leaders.
Secretary Bernhardt bears responsibilities for the U.S. territories of American Samoa, Guam, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands in the region. DOI also administers and oversees Federal assistance under the Compacts of Free Association to the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau. Douglas W. Domenech, Interior Assistant Secretary, Insular and International Affairs, and the Office of Insular Affairs support DOI’s mission of upholding trust and related responsibilities by balancing efforts and resources to support stronger health, education, and economic capacities, along with promoting fiscal accountability in the U.S. insular areas.
For more information on Secretary Bernhardt’s participation in the 2019 PIF: Follow Secretary Bernhardt on Twitter at @SecBernhardt. For more information on U.S. assistance to the U.S. territories and freely associated states in the Pacific, follow @ASIIADomenech.