Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister Peter O’Neill is in Hawaii, representing Papua New Guinea, and Pacific Island Countries, in discussions with the United States.
Mr O’Neill arrived in Hawaii this morning, where he will Chair the 10th Pacific Island Conference of Leaders (PICL), which begins tomorrow.
The meeting will be attended by leaders and officials from Pacific Island nations and the United States, and cover a number of regional integration and cooperation issues.
“Soon, a new President of the United States will be elected and sworn in.
“We have the opportunity at this conference to work with US officials to prepare for the change of government, so that we can hit the ground running when the new president is inaugurated next January,” Mr O’Neill said.
Prime Minister O’Neill says he expects Pacific Island nations to come out of regional discussions with the United States this week, holding a stronger collective perspective on key regional issues, including climate change, and security.
“In the past this has covered research in areas that include the draw down of RAMSI, maritime issues, the future of seabed mining, and other significant regional matters.
“This week we have a number of important topics before us, including regional safety and security, and these are issues that affect all Pacific island nations.”
He says that despite the impending change in the US Presidency, Pacific Island nations have had a very positive relationship with US President Barack Obama, and this conference will set the tone of the region’s relationship with the new President.
He says one important feature of the PICL is the access it provides to some of the best research scholars and policy officials in the region.
While this relationship has previously covered regional safety and security; Mr O’Neill says the international community has a number of current concerns including maritime disputes, the spread of terrorist attacks, global economic instability, and the constant threat of extreme weather caused by climate change.
“We must manage current political tensions through dialogue, and we must manage economic challenges by sticking with sensible financial management.
“Pacific Island nations cannot take on these issues alone. We must partner with other like-inded nations, and stand for our interests in the global community.”
The Prime Minister was last in Hawaii for the 2011 APEC Leaders Summit, which, he said, was well organised, and provides examples for Papua New Guinea in 2018.