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2Samoa Talks confirmed for October

Commerce Department director Keniseli Lafaele speaking at last Thursday’s cabinet meeting regarding the upcoming Two-Samoa Talks now set for Oct. 12th in Apia.  [photo: FS]

The annual Executive Summit of the two Samoas headed by Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga and Samoa Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi is set for October this year, and the governor has requested certain cabinet members to look at ways American Samoa can utilize the ASG land - designated by Samoa - in Apia.

The summit was initially scheduled to be held early this month but Lolo had requested Commerce Department director Keniseli Lafaele to work with counterparts in Samoa to move it to another date, as the governor left the island the end of last month for meetings.

During last Thursday’s cabinet meeting, Lafaele announced that the Samoa government has confirmed that this year’s Two Samoa Talks is set for Oct. 12th. In preparation for the summit, Lafaele said a meeting was held two weeks ago with local agencies that are involved in  to discuss various issues.

Reports from each ASG entity as well as any memorandum of understanding or memorandum of agreement between ASG and their counterparts in Samoa was due yesterday at DOC. Yesterday was also the due date for any reports from ASG agencies involved in the Two Samoa Talks outlining what has been done in the past 12 months, with their Samoa counterparts.

Lafaele said another meeting with ASG agencies will be held later this week to discuss issues for American Samoa, to be presented at the summit. These issues will then be discussed in a separate meeting with the governor and Lt. Gov. Lemanu Peleti Mauga to finalize American Samoa’s agenda to be presented in Apia.

The proposed plan at this point is for the American Samoa delegation to start departing Pago Pago for Apia on Monday, Oct. 9th, which is a local and national holiday - Columbus Day, as Oct. 12th - the summit date - will be Oct. 11th in American Samoa.

Lafaele said there will be preliminary meetings of counterparts — such as the power authorities — of the two Samoas in Apia prior to the executive summit.

The Summit covers a broader range of subjects in addition to Economic Integration — Immigration/ Legal Issues, Mutual legal assistance, Joint Disaster Preparedness, Tourism, Sports, etc.

Other key areas, aside from economic integration, includes renewable energy; standardizing terminology for tsunami & cyclone warnings; annual health summit of the two Samoas; and collaboration on issues of mutual importance relating to youth, women, and culture.

Lolo called on all cabinet members involved in the inter-Samoa talks to ensure that American Samoa’s agenda is in place before heading to Samoa.

He also said that there is land designated for American Samoa not only in Samoa but, in Tonga, for use and for all cabinet members involved in this matter to work together with DOC to find the best way to utilize these lands. (ASG’s land in Samoa is located in Vailima, while the one in Tonga is near Nuku’alofa).

Lolo said taxi operators are currently cleaning the land in Tafuna that’s been given to Samoa. According to the governor, the Samoa Prime Minister has informed him that a land lease has been signed with taxi operators to clean it and to use the land to park their taxis.

“Maybe we can do something similar with the land in Samoa,” Lolo said, and urged his cabinet involved with the land in Apia to come up with some good ideas of how to use it.