White House congratulates Samoa on Independence Day

The United States Secretary of State, Antony J. Blinken has called on Samoa’s leaders to respect democratic processes and uphold the rule of law as the nation celebrates 59 years of independence. 

On behalf of the U.S. government, Mr. Blinken congratulated Samoa on its 59th independence anniversary.

The occasion also coincides with 59 years of close friendship between the United States of America and Samoa, he added.

“On behalf of the Government of the United States of America, I offer my congratulations to the people of Samoa on the occasion of the fifty-ninth anniversary of your independence on June 1, 2021,” Secretary Blinken writes in his statement.

“The United States and Samoa have enjoyed a close friendship that began with your independence in 1962.”

The U.S. and Samoa, most recently worked together to combat the COVID-19 virus and other health threats, he said in a statement on the country's State Department website.

Mr. Blinken re-interated the U.S.A.’s commitment to collaborating with Samoa and its regional partners to help recover from the impact of the pandemic.

“Most recently, we have worked together to combat COVID-19 and other health threats,” he said.

“The United States is committed to collaborating with you and our partners in the region to help ensure Samoa and neighboring Pacific Island countries recover quickly from the impacts of the pandemic.”

The United States, said Secretary Blinken, looks forward to helping Samoa and the Pacific fight climate change.

But Secretary Blinken also made mention of the current political cloud looming over the nation since last month's election. 

In the “aftermath of the general election” he said the U.S. calls on the leaders of Samoa to respect democracy and the law.

Those values – respect for democracy and the law – and the shared love of freedom and human rights are the foundation of democratic societies, Secretary Blinken said.

He wished all Samoans a happy Independence Day.

“We also look forward to working with Samoa and other Pacific Island countries to combat climate change," he wrote. 

"This year, in the aftermath of the general election in Samoa, the United States calls on Samoa’s leaders to respect democratic processes and uphold the rule of law.

“These values, and our shared love of freedom and human rights, are the foundation of our democratic societies. Happy Independence Day to all Samoans.”

The U.S. Secretary of State under President Joe Biden comes from a family of public servants and diplomats, the U.S. Embassy at Apia Samoa says in an online biography. 

Secretary Blinken joined the State Department in 1994 and later took posts in the Clinton White House and on the staff of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee where he worked closely with Biden, then a senator from Delaware.

After Obama’s election in 2008, Blinken served as then-Vice President Biden’s national security adviser and later as principal deputy national security adviser. He was appointed Deputy Secretary of State in 2015.

In recent remarks, Blinken says the U.S. has a critical role in convening other nations to tackle global challenges like climate change, arms proliferation and the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We need to be working with other countries,” he said. “We need their cooperation. We need their partnership.”

On 31 May, 2021, the U.S. Embassy Apia Samoa office was closed in observance of Memorial Day in the U.S. (see separate story).

Memorial Day a federal holiday in the United States for honoring and mourning the military personnel who have died while serving in the United States Armed Forces.

Yonkers, New York-born Secretary Blinken, a graduate of Harvard University and Columbia Law School, made the remarks in his Samoa Independence Day press statement dated 28 May, 2021.

Secretary Blinken inherits a foreign policy from former President Donald Trump that experts say included an unprecedented focus on the Pacific region as a means of countering Chinese inluence in the region alongside its allies such as Australia.

Former Defense Secretary Mark Esper made a "historic" visit to Palau late last year. Soon after the island nation openly invited the U.S. to build a military base on its territory as a means of promoting local employment.

Similarly, the former Secretary of the Army, Brian McCarthy, said last January that America was planning to build a military base with increased missile and cyber warfare capacity in the region. No location was specified but it was locally reported that the U.S.A. was eyeing a location "east of the Philippines" for its installation. 

Several foreign policy experts, such as Harvard Professor Graham Allison have said they do not forecast a major shift in foreign policy focus under President Biden, whom they expect to continue a shift away from the Middle East towards the Pacific. 

Professor Allison and other experts have said a focus on new alliances, such as with India, and climate change could be points of difference between the administrations. 

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