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Tavita Tusitala

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Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visit and interview in American Samoa

Monday, November 8, 2010
Joined by First Lady Mary Ann Tulafono, Lieutenant Governor Faoa Sunia and Mrs. Elisapeta Sunia, Governor Togiola  Tulafono welcomed U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to American Samoa with a traditional ava ceremony in the Governor’s Lounge at Pago Pago International Airport.
In his words of welcome while receiving his cup of ava, Governor Togiola expressed the gratitude and honor of American Samoa for the Secretary’s two-hour visit.

Secretary Clinton remarks at Ava ceremony

Honorable Governor, Honorable Lieutenant Governor, Honorable Representative, Honorable Chief Justice, Honorable District Governors, officials, ladies and gentlemen:

I am deeply honored to be here today. I greatly appreciate the warm welcome that has been extended to me on behalf of President Obama and the government of the United States, and personally on behalf of my family.

I have long wanted to visit American Samoa and I only regret is that this stopover is not as long as I would have wanted. But the United States is aware of, and grateful for, our close relationship and our deep ties; made most evident by the long and noble history and sacrifice of the men and women of American Samoa. Not only as members of our military, serving with great distinction and honor, but as fellow travelers along life’s path joined together by decisions that were made more than a hundred years ago, but which have stood the test of time.

I would be remiss in not extending my deep sense of appreciation for the working relationship for both my husband and now this government has had with you. I’m sure my husband will also be very disappointed if I didn’t say how much he enjoys watching the young men from American Samoa play football.

Governor, it is not only a personal pleasure to be here, but it is a sign and respect of the ties that we have, and I pledge that I will continue to work with you and with your excellent representative, with whom I have worked for many years in the Congress, on behalf of not only stronger ties, but an even closer relationship that will benefit your people.

So, on behalf of my delegation and my traveling party, I thank you for this honor that you have given me with this ceremony. I am deeply touched and very, very grateful.  I wish I only knew enough words in your language to express myself in them. But let me conclude by saying God bless you and God bless your people, God bless the United States and God bless the future we share together.

Secretary Clinton addressing the American Samoa media

I want to express my deep appreciation that has been extended to me – Governor Togiola Tulafono and Mary, thank you for your years of friendship and leadership – it is a very special occasion. I cannot wait to describe it all to my husband. And I know he will feel somewhat envious that I have this very significant opportunity. Let me extend greetings to all the people. I know it is late at night; I feel energized by the opportunity to be here and to enjoy this wonderful ceremony that exemplifies the traditions of the Samoan people. I am very, very grateful.

I was telling the Governor that the Obama Administration is committed to provide American Samoa over $200 million under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act; $91 million will go toward a fiber optic line that would – a fiber optic network lining the main islands for broadband internet. Education, nutrition, and waste water treatment projects will also receive funding.

This is a particular opportunity for investment in clean and renewable energy sources, including wind, solar, wave and ocean thermal conversion power. I know the islands currently import a hundred percent of your energy requirements, mainly petroleum.  These high energy costs born by a small population make renewable energy a very attractive option. I want to work with you and closely with the other agencies of the United States Government to ensure that we can address the islands’ energy requirements.

The Department of the Interior Office of Insular Affairs has engaged the National Renewable Energy Laboratory through an interagency agreement with the Department of Energy to provide guidance to local communities in the production of long term strategic energy plans. We very much look forward to working closely with you. I thank you all for your leadership.

I particular appreciate the excellent cooperation we receive from your representative in Washington. He’s a very familiar presence. And, I can attest, a very persistent advocate for the interests of his constituents.

There is a lot to be grateful for and excited about as we look at our future together. But it will take hard work. It will take a vision that we must collaborate on together. I know Governor Togiola Tulafono and all of you have been committed to building that better future.

I am honored that I can just personally convey, not only best wishes from President Obama and our government, but also the reaffirmation of our commitment to working with you. We are grateful for this relation and we know it has a blessing from the United States.

We appreciate the very kind words expressed today about the importance of the relationship to the people here.  So, thank you again for making me feel so welcome and I look forward to working closely with all of you in the years ahead. Thank you.

Secretary Clinton answers questions from media

QUESTION (Fili Sagapolutele, Samoa News):The issue of American Samoa has been characterized by the United Nations as a colony. Where does the Obama Administration stand at this point in dealing with American Samoa and other territories and decolonization?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we, of course, reject that characterization. We think that it is not accurate and does not describe the relationship that we have had over all of these years. But I do think we have to work more closely together to meet the needs of the people of American Samoa. And that is my pledge to you, that we will do all that we can to ensure that we have a very close, respectful working relationship now and far into the future.

QUESTION (Fili Sagapolutele, Samoa News):Is there a U.S. policy that will allow American Samoa as lead representation in the Pacific, especially for fishery matters?

SECRETARY CLINTON: The fisheries issue is a critical issue. And that’s a very fair question. And let me take that back with me, and consult, and see what could be possible, because certainly when it comes to an issue of importance like fisheries, there needs to be active involvement. In fact, I think that the United States needs to do more to help with surveillance and understanding of the challenges posed to the fishing stocks and a better system of protection of those stocks for use of the people here, both for personal consumption and for market exportability. So I will look into that, for sure.

QUESTION (Barry Markowitz, independent photo journalist): Madam Secretary, in light of the recent new style, if I could use an inappropriate word, regarding terrorism, and airlines, and printer cartridges, and this whole new genre, there has been recent Middle East money promised to open an Islamic center in the nation of Fiji. Is that of any concern to the State Department, that outside money not indigenous to the Muslim people are creating a center, which may or may not be the tradition of this part of Oceana?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I think that the first part of your comment with respect to the continuing threat of terrorism is something that we obviously take very seriously. And we work closely with friends and partners throughout the Asian-Pacific region. I am not concerned about any peaceful purpose of relationship-building from around the world, but I think that we have to be constantly aware of any efforts by terrorists and extremists to find a haven or to use as launching bases any part of the world. So we have to be watchful, and we will certainly do so.

QUESTION (La Poasa, 93KHJ & WVUV V103 News): Madam Secretary, what is your position on American Samoa’s request for observer status with the Pacific Island Forum? Several years ago, American Samoa submitted an application. However, we were told that, at the request of the State Department, that application was not considered.

SECRETARY CLINTON: I’m not aware of that, but I can tell you that if that is brought to me, I will have a different answer. I think that you should have that kind of participation.

GOVERNOR TOGIOLA: I’m a little bit worried about the time here. Madame Secretary I was hoping to have a little discourse with you a little later. Believe me, this was not rehearsed, and this is just coming out of our local media. And we appreciate very much your efforts. And we need to get the Secretary moving along here. And I appreciate all our local media showing up and just to be here for the Secretary’s visit. Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much for being here.


In attendance at the welcoming ceremony was Chief Justice Leala’ialoa Michael Kruse and Mrs. Gail Kruse, Congressman Faleomavaega Eni, Secretary of Samoan Affairs Tufele Fa’ato’ia Li’amatua and Mrs. Tofiga Tufele, Manu’a District Governor Misaalefua Hudson and Mrs. Lina Hudson, Western District Governor Satele Galu Teutusi and Mrs. Joyita Satele, Eastern District Governor Gaoteote Tapatonu, and American Samoa Democratic Party Chairman Fagafaga Daniel Langkilde and Mrs. Sister Aveina Langkilde.

Secretary of Samoan Affairs Tufele Fa’ato’ia Li’amatua welcoming remarks

Thank you, Madame Secretary. In our language, we say fa’afetai, fa’afetai tele.
More than a hundred years ago, our ancestors ceded our islands to the United States. With a mutual agreement made by men of impeccable integrity, honor and moral fortitude, we have enjoyed this relationship. It has provided us with a sense of respect and integrity in exercising the freedom and liberty throughout the years as part of the American family.

In return, we pledged our loyalty to the United States by the supreme sacrifice of our sons and daughters who are serving In the Armed Forces of the United States, defending freedom in every corner of the world.

So, Madame Secretary, on your visit today, we affirm that mutual agreement of our ancestors and the world’s most powerful nation that was entered into more than a hundred years ago.

Madame Secretary, we firmly believe that we now have in you a stronger voice for our distant islands in our nation’s capital. We would like to applaud your hard work and tireless efforts in promoting peace and goodwill and to make this world a better place to live.

Please convey to President Obama and First Lady Michelle our best wishes. We also fondly remember our good friend President Clinton and Chelsea. Please extend our best wishes to them.

We are very happy to have you on our shores for the first time. We pray that God will continue to provide you with courage and wisdom. So, tonight, we say welcome and fa’afetai tele lava i lau afioga i le Failautusi (thank you to you Honorable Secretary). Soifua.


Arriving on a U.S. aircraft on Sunday at 11:15pm with a traveling party that included staff, media and security personnel, Secretary Clinton’s two-hour visit to American Samoa was part of a two-week tour through Asia and the Pacific, which on October 28, 2010. The first stop on her trip was in Hawaii, where she then visited Guam, Vietnam, China, Cambodia, Malaysia, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, New Zealand, and Australia before arriving at Pago Pago International Airport last night.
Secretary Clinton departed American Samoa at 1:15am today.
Source: American Samoa Government


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