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Regional News

New FSM president thanks Australia for its continuous friendship and support

PALIKIR, Pohnpei (FSM Information Services) — On May 15, 2019, David W. Panuelo, the new president of the Federated States of Micronesia, received George Fraser, ambassador of Australia, who requested a courtesy call.

The purpose of the meeting was for Ambassador Fraser to congratulate President Panuelo on his election to the highest office, with much of the discussion focusing on strengthening the already strong relationship between FSM and Australia through ongoing and upcoming cooperation programs, in areas ranging from building the FSM’s human capacity and regional security to potential infrastructural assistance through the Australian Infrastructure Financing Facility for the Pacific.

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David W. Panuelo, president of the Federated States of Micronesia, poses with George Fraser, ambassador of Australia.
FSM President Panuelo expresses his appreciation for the diplomatic training courtesy of the Australian government when he was a foreign service officer in the 1980s.  FSMIS photos

President Panuelo extended his appreciation to Ambassador Fraser for Australia’s continuous support for the FSM’s sovereignty and — rather personally — for Australia’s support in human capacity development in the FSM, including his own. “I participated in [an Australian] foreign service training program,” President Panuelo said, referring to his former career in the FSM Department of Foreign Affairs in the 1980s and 1990s, “and I wish to thank Australia for those early days of support, which have been ongoing…I am a product of your diplomatic training.”

“We appreciate your role in helping our self-determination…and we thank you for the patrol boat program,” continued President Panuelo. Three of the FSM’s patrol boats are donations from the people and government of Australia, and two patrol boats are currently being produced by Australia for FSM’s receipt in 2021.

“We see our relationship,” said Ambassador Fraser, “our regional stability, security, and prosperity as linked…. If our Pacific partners and neighbors are secure and stable, then we are also. And that’s the aim of [Australia’s] presence in the FSM and the Pacific — a desire to be partners with our neighbors.”

It was on the premise of partnership with one’s neighbors that President Panuelo then asked Ambassador Fraser if the FSM could be the host for the upcoming Pacific Fusion Center. “The North Pacific needs more exposure [compared to the South Pacific],” said President Panuelo, who noted that the center would be able to assist the Nation in its commitment to the Technology for Tuna Transparency or T3 Challenge, wherein the FSM seeks to acquire 100 percent transparency in its tuna fisheries by 2023, and in its ongoing struggle against human trafficking.

During the 2018 Pacific Islands Forum held in the Republic of Nauru, the Australian government announced its support to establish the Pacific Fusion Center, which is designed to strengthen the ability of Pacific governments to enforce their laws and protect their sovereignty, including responding to security threats such as illegal fishing and human trafficking.

“I will convey [the request] to Canberra,” said Ambassador Fraser.

The remainder of the conversation focused largely on potential infrastructural and human capacity assistance, the former through the Australian Infrastructure Financing Facility for the Pacific, which offers support for infrastructural project assistance, and the latter through organizations such as the Australian Pacific Security College, which offers courses in maritime security and transnational crime.

The FSM is dedicated towards producing positive and peaceful relationships with all countries and peoples throughout the world. The FSM and Australia enjoy a particularly positive and peaceful relationship, and it is the hope of the FSM national government that the FSM and Australia’s partnership will continue to flourish.