ISLAND TIMES – by Bernadette Carreon September 29, 2020
In an in-person meeting here in Palau starting on Wednesday, President Tommy Remenegsau Jr. and leaders Kiribati, Nauru, the Federated States of Micronesia and the Marshall Islands will re-affirm their backing of RMI ambassador to the US, Gerald Zackios, to become the new secretary general of the Pacific Islands Forum.
The other candidates for the Secretary General in the running are Tonga’s candidate Amelia Kinahoi-Siamomua, who is head of the Commonwealth Secretariat’s Gender section in London; as well as the outgoing Cook Islands Prime Minister Henry Puna; former Pacific Community head Dr Jimmie Rodgers from Solomon Islands and former Fiji Foreign Minister Ratu Inoke Kubuabola.
The leaders and the delegation of the five Micronesian countries are set to arrive in Palau this afternoon via Nauru Airlines.
The presidents will officially start the Micronesia Presidents’ Summit on September 30 where they will stress that it should be Micronesia’s turn to provide the next Sec-Gen of the PIF.
The leaders have earlier said that the rest of the Pacific leaders are aware of the gentlemen’s agreement.
The leaders will also be discussing issues on safe travel during COVID-19: repatriation, emergency medical and travel bubbles.
Among the others topics that the leaders will discuss is about food security in COVID-19, security and marine surveillance during COVID-19
The leaders will also join Palau’s Independence Day celebrations on 1 October.
Nauru Airlines will run a service across the five island countries to ‘pick up’ delegates for the meeting in Palau.
The Micronesian group of islands remains COVID-free, that is why the leaders will skip quarantine upon arrival here.
“The reason why we are holding it is because we wanted to showcase the fact that everything does not have to be economic or profit-oriented. You can lock down your borders..suffer the economic impact but ensure the health of our people. That’s really the message. We have been able to do it, all five countries of Micronesia, because we locked down our borders, simple as that,” Remenegsau earlier told reporters here.