President Hilda Heine met with numerous heads of state during the Pacific Islands Forum in Pohnpei last week, including Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. She held meetings with 14 donor agencies and nations on the side while the Forum meetings progressed. The two key issues commanding focus of the leaders was response to climate changes and disaster risk management, and increasing economic returns from fisheries.
In addition to attending the main meetings of the Pacific Islands Forum last week in Pohnpei, the President was interviewed by various media, delivered a check to the Micronesian Trade and Economic Community, and sent a letter to President Obama to mark the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the United States.
Heine was interviewed in Pohnpei by a correspondent for Monocle Magazine, a global publication that regularly profiles world leaders. When asked about her landmark status as the first female President of the Marshall Islands, President Heine said her election marked the first step toward assuring constitutional guarantees of equality are fulfilled.
“We may have a small economy, be one of the isolated countries in the world, and not have a military, but we can still play a big role on the world stage,” said Heine commenting on the role of so-called “soft power.”
“We do this by bringing a moral voice of leadership to discussions that impact us most, even when we played no role in creating these problems. Two of the world’s biggest threats — nuclear weapons and climate change — have impacted us most, but we are also leading the global fight against them.”
She also presented a check of $20,000 to the Micronesian Trade and Economic Community (MTEC) Secretariat as a token of support to organization, the second contribution made by RMI. The President reaffirmed the RMI commitments under the Treaty of the Micronesian Trade and Economic Community (MTEC) endorsed in 2015.
In her letter to Obama, Heine expressed the RMI’s solidarity and sympathy with the people and government of the United States on the 15th anniversary of the terrorist attacks in the US. “The People and Government of the RMI remember and pay tribute to the more than 3,000 lives lost during the horrific attacks,” she wrote.