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American Samoa eyeing a membership seat at Pacific Islands Forum

 By Pacific Island Times News Staff

American Samoa is seeking membership with the Pacific Islands Forum, hoping to represent itself in the regional organization that mostly comprises sovereign nations.


Located in the South Pacific, American Samoa is an unincorporated U.S. territory that connects culturally with Pacific islands.


American Samoa is the second U.S. territory to apply for PIF membership. In 2022, Guam submitted its membership petition but received lukewarm responses both from the regional bloc and U.S. officials.


“The U.S. government made a statement registering their opposition to our application for PIF membership,” Guam Gov. Lt. Gov. Josh Tenorio said in an interview with the Pacific Island Times last year


The Forum comprises 18 members. Other than New Caledonia and French Polynesia, which are both French territories, all members are self-ruled.


Lt. Gov. Talauega Eleasalo Vaalele Ale noted that while the Forum is “a gathering deeply rooted in oceanic culture,” American Samoa is left out with no voice.


He lamented that American Samoa's leaders “found themselves on the outside, observing rather than actively participating alongside their Pacific counterparts.”


Talauega led the American Samoa delegation that met last week with Forum Deputy Secretary General Esala Nayasi at the Forum Secretariat in Suva.


The meeting focused on American Samoa's bid for associate membership in the Forum, with an eventual goal of achieving full membership.


“The meeting concluded on a positive note, with both parties reaffirming their dedication to continued dialogue and collaboration,” states a press release from the American Samoa government. “As part of the application process, an on-the-ground visit to American Samoa is scheduled, aiming for a comprehensive review ahead of the upcoming PIF meeting in August.”


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