The November 2011 issue of Foreign Policy carries an insightful article by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on America's policy and place in the Pacific and Asian regions. Just one excellent example of our engagement in the region was the nature and scope of U.S. participation in this year's Pacific Island Forum in Auckland, New Zealand.
The United States sent its largest and highest-level delegation ever to attend the PIF's Post-Forum Dialogue. Led by Deputy Secretary of State Thomas Nides, the contingent included senior officials from the Department of State, USAID, White House, Department of Commerce, Peace Corps, Department of Defense, and Coast Guard.
Playing key roles along with Deputy Secretary Nides were Assistant Secretary Kurt Campbell and the Governor of American Samoa, the Honorable Togiola Tulafono, as well my fellow American Ambassadors from Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Palau, and Australia. The delegation split into several teams based on subject matter focus, and almost two dozen of my colleagues from the Embassy and Consulate General provided support and squired the teams through more than 110 separate meetings with their counterparts from the Government of New Zealand and/or other PIF attendees.
Progress was made on a variety of matters including disaster preparedness, climate change, sustainable development, and fisheries. Several MOUs and agreements were signed. For example, we signed partnership agreements with the Secretariat of the Pacific Community and the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme to advance climate change adaptation in the Pacific Small Island States. Those agreements are part of a larger, two-year commitment to address climate change impact in the region.
We also signed ship-rider agreements with Nauru and Tuvalu, bringing the total number of those agreements in the Pacific to eight. Under those successful agreements, the U.S. Coast Guard extends the reach and power of island nation law enforcement officers by hosting them on our vessels and aircraft to patrol national Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs). Such joint activity is essential to the economic health as well as the security of partner nations, given the large amount of illegal commercial fishing in the EEZs.
Such collaboration is a natural part of our uninterrupted, generations-long engagement in the region. The United States is itself a Pacific nation with deep, enduring, and historic ties to our Pacific friends and neighbors. And that isn't going to change.