US State Department
washington d.c.

3:15 p.m. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I thought we were going to give you a break, but they didn’t let in – didn’t let in at all.

Thanks a lot. My friends, I think it has been–we’ve been looking forward to it for a long time. And it’s wonderful to welcome you all together for the first time, leaders of the Pacific Islands, to Washington.

You know, this summit pays tribute to the deep history that our nations share and to long-standing commercial and diplomatic relations, and to a common struggle to defend freedom.

And the sacrifices that we made together, the partnerships between our–among our people helped end the bloody war in the Pacific during World War II. And recently, we honored the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Guadalcanal with a memorial in the Solomon Islands.

And – and today, security in the Pacific and for Pacific Islanders remains more critical than ever for us and hopefully for you as well. To secure – the security of America, quite frankly, and the world depends on your security and the security of the Pacific Islands. And I really mean it.

Thus, this summit also aims to deepen our enduring commitment to each other and to our common future; our commitment to tackle the climate crisis, which threatens us all. We see very clearly the consequences of climate change all over the world, including in the United States right now. And–and I know your nations feel that very much. And for all of you, it’s an existential threat. It’s an existential threat.

And we are also committed to working together to rebuild the global economy fairly in the wake of COVID-19 and the Russian war – you know, to ensure a free and open, stable and prosperous, and resilient and resilient Indo-Pacific region. secured.

Much of our world’s history will be written in the Indo-Pacific over the coming years and decades. And the Pacific Islands are a vital voice in shaping that future. And that is why my administration has made it a priority to strengthen our partnership with your countries and with the Pacific Islands Forum.

I had the honor of being the first president of the United States to address the forum last year. And Vice President Harris shared our vision for cooperation with the Pacific Islands Forum at your leaders’ meeting.

This year, we also launched the Partners in the Blue Pacific initiative — a bit poetic, isn’t it? — the Blue Pacific Partners — but this is an initiative that is very close to our hearts — to coordinate more effectively with our allies and partners around the world to better meet the needs of people across the Pacific.

That is why this historic summit — at this historic summit, we are making additional and concrete commitments. And we’re launching our Pacific Partnership Strategy, the first U.S. national strategy for the Pacific Islands, which is a key component of our broader Indo-Pacific — Indo-Pacific strategy.

We are also announcing more than $110 million [$810 million] in spent [expanded] U.S. programs to improve the lives of Pacific Islanders, which include more than $130 million in new investments to support climate resilience and build sustainable blue economies in the Pacific Islands; prepare for climate impacts on public health and food security, and strengthen sustainable development; and also to strengthen early warning capacities to predict, prepare for and respond to climatic hazards.

This is going to build on approximately $375 million in climate programs that we currently have in the region.

We are also taking several important diplomatic steps. And I am proud to announce that following proper consultation, we will recognize the Cook Islands and Niue as sovereign states.

And we look forward to successfully concluding negotiations for a Covenant of Free Association with three of our closest partners in the region – the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands and the Republic of Palau.

The United States is committed to consulting with you all and cooperating at all times, because it is in our best interests and, I hope, in yours. This is the whole purpose of this summit.

And with your permission, I would also like to touch briefly on Russia’s shameless and transparent efforts to annex parts of its neighbor Ukraine.

The United States – I want to be very clear on this: the United States will never, ever, ever recognize Russia’s claims to the sovereign territory of Ukraine.

This so-called referendum was a sham – an absolute sham – and the results were fabricated in Moscow.
And the – the true will of the Ukrainian people is evident every day as they lay down their lives to save their people and maintain their country’s independence and in defense of freedom as well.

Russia’s assault on Ukraine in pursuit of Putin’s imperial ambitions is a flagrant violation of the United Nations Charter and fundamental principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity.

I am grateful to Pacific Island leaders for standing up for these basic principles and providing strong moral leadership on global issues at the United Nations.

I look forward to hearing from you. And I can’t wait – even more to welcome you to my – the White House tonight for dinner. I don’t know what’s on the menu yet, but I hope it’s good. (Laugh.)

But joking aside, I can’t wait to see you tonight. And I’ll turn it over to Secretary Blinken.

3:22 p.m. EDT


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