Leaders of Palau, Nauru, Kiribati, Federated States Of Micronesia (FSM) and the Marshall Islands consider the face-to-face meeting here as a success story of COVID-free travel bubble.
“ It’s kinda emotional for us , you are really the first guests to come from abroad, and to have this meeting physically is a great honor, and definitely a great privilege for us to host you, “ President Tommy Remengesau said as he opened the first day of the Special Micronesian Presidents’ Summit (MPS) on Wednesday.
Remengesau said while all nations are facing unique situation, “we as a region are totally COVID—free”
President Remengesau said a face-to-face meeting was made possible because Palau, Nauru, Kiribati, FSM and RMI prioritized its people more than the economy by closing its borders.
“By gathering here today, we send a strong message to the rest of the world that lives matter in the Pacific,” President Remengesau said.
Nauru President Lionel Aingimea said that the Micronesian bubble has been a reality.
“We imagine, we discussed and we planned about our Micronesian Travel Bubble. We knew that this is an unprecedented initiative yet through constructive dialogue and our collective determination-today we demonstrated to the rest of the region and the world that in the face of adversity, nothing is impossible,” he said.
He said despite other nations in the Pacific contemplating a travel bubble , from the Trans-Tasman bubble by Australia and New Zealand, only the Micronesian region was able to do it.
“When other countries are still contemplating about a travel bubble, a Trans-Tasman bubble, a bula bubble, a Pacific bubble, gum bubble, whatever bubble they would like to use. We have taken the bold first step and made sure that the Micronesian bubble is true,” Nauru president added in his opening remarks.”
While FSM David Panuelo and Kiribati Taneti Maamau cannot attend physically, they took part in the meeting virtually.
Kiribati President Maamau via a virtual address said Micronesian solidarity is very important, especially getting through the economic impacts of the pandemic.
“Our meeting today is unique,” he said, also hailing the hybrid modality so he can participate remotely.
RMI President David Kabua said while the region is COVID-free, weak healthcare systems and economic vulnerabilities will challenge the nations.
However he is delighted that the face to face meeting has been successful.
“We are grateful for this summit despite the trying times,” he said.
During the meeting, the leaders will further discuss issues of safe travel during COVID-19, repatriation, emergency medical and travel bubbles.
Among the others topics that the leaders will discuss include food security, security and marine surveillance during COVID-19.
Nauru Airlines ran a service across RMI, Pohnpei, to ‘pick up’ delegates for the meeting in Palau. A total of 75 people arrived on the island for the meeting.
Palau government said that the delegates provided negative COVID-19 tests two days before boarding the plane. The guests again had to undergo CoVID-testing upon arrival in Palau and were all confirmed negative of COVID-19 virus.