Bula Vinaka, Mr. President.
Every family in Florida affected by Hurricane Ian has our heartfelt solidarity. Beyond the destruction itself is the trauma and heartache that families across Fiji and the Pacific Islands have known ourselves. We understand that suffering and hope the world understands as well.
Mr. President, you ran on the promise of bringing America back. You have done that and more. The USA is back in the Paris Agreement. You have passed the USA’s largest climate bill ever. And our Blue Pacific in the White House speaking with you directly like never before. I have to say: from where we sit, America is looking pretty great again.
I am among the first, if not the very first, world leader to congratulate you on your successful election. Fiji was the first country in the world to ratify the Paris Agreement so it felt right to be the first to welcome you back. I invited you to join us at the Pacific Island Leaders Forum Summit – which you spoke at virtually. Your Vice President Kamala Harris also joined us online at the Leaders Retreat we held in Suva this past July. We then requested a summit with the Pacific to which you agreed, and here we are making history.
At every level, our people and my Government hope for a direct, broad, and comprehensive partnership with the USA.
Our shared values are clear. Fiji has condemned Mr. Putin’s war on Ukraine as the evil it is. Fiji has worked with US authorities to enforce its sanctions on Russia. There is a Russian yacht docked in San Diego harbour that can attest to that. We will not recongise any planned Russian annexations and will continue to work with the international community to support this war’s end.
The Blue Pacific meets you today as an oceanic superpower. And we view America’s might, political commitments, science, finance, and technology as vital to protecting the tens of millions of square kilometers of Pacific that we steward and that provide the world with its food and oxygen.
Our shared prosperity depends on peace and security across a connected Indo-Pacific. And it depends on securing emissions cuts in line with the 1.5-degree target. America is not there yet. We ask you and the American people for that commitment.
Pacific security also depends on fast-acting, accessible, and affordable financing for adaptation. The USA is among the nations that pledged to make $100 billion in climate finance available by 2020. Wealthy nations are not there yet either. Generally, we need to work with you to mobilize larger public and private climate finance on a far larger scale. You will have Fiji’s total support in leading a fundamental reform of a tired global financial architecture
Mr. President, we welcome the US Pacific Strategy and endorse this Summit’s Declaration in support of our shared vision of vibrant, resilient, and open blue and green Pacific Island economies. We welcome US investment, partnerships – including with the private sector – and closer maritime security. Most of all, we welcome America back to the Blue Pacific. We trust you are here to stay through a new era of friendship that will shape decades to come.
Vinaka vakalevu. Thank you.