Lolo says concerns over N. Korea threat should include Am Samoa

Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga says Congress needs to be aware that American Samoa is a US territory and a valuable platform for a military staging area and frontline defense, given its proximity to the Asian Rim countries.

The governor's comments were made in an Aug. 15th letter to US Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke, a day after US Rep. William ‘Mac’ Thornberry, chairman of the US House Armed Forces Committee appeared on CNN discussing the escalating tension between North Korea and the U.S, particularly on the recent threat by North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un, to fire four missiles into waters near the US territory of Guam.

“While we appreciate the disclosure of defense systems set up on Guam, Hawaii and Alaska,” Lolo said, American Samoa — “a US Territory” — was not mentioned as a potential target for North Korean missiles, nor are there attempts by the United States to protect Americans living in American Samoa.

According to the governor, it’s “becoming abundantly clear that Congress needs to be made aware that American Samoa” is a US territory and it was used as a staging area during World War II.

“We continue to believe that the Territory of American Samoa is strategically valuable as a platform for a military staging area and frontline defense given its proximity to the Asian Rim countries and central location in the Pacific,” Lolo wrote.

The governor informed Zinke that soldiers of Samoan ancestry have and continue to serve proudly in the US Armed Forces “to protect the ideals and freedoms which makes the United States the envy of the world.”

“Many have made the ultimate sacrifice which should legitimize our claim to be Americans and entitles us to equal treatment accorded to States and Territories of the United States,” the governor concluded.

Copies of the governor’s letter were sent to Congresswoman Aumua Amata, Interior Acting Assistant Secretary for Insular Areas, Nikolao Pula and Lt. Gov. Lemanu Peleti Mauga.

Lolo’s letter comes at a time when local residents have been keeping up with the latest development in the war of words between the US and North Korea, and some have wondered whether the US will look at providing some sort of protection for American Samoa, the only US possession south of the equator.

The Associated Press reported last week that the North Korean military has submitted plans to the country’s leader for firing missiles and with “warlike language” from US President Donald Trump, who says the US will respond, with “fury and fire”, to any attacks by the North.

The US and North Korea have signaled in recent days, a willingness to avert a deepening crisis, with each suggesting a path towards negotiations, the AP reported on Tuesday.

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