United States President Joe Biden is scheduled to address the virtual meeting of the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) leaders today. 

This will be a first for the Pacific, where a United States leader address the regional meeting. 

Inquiries sent to the Chief of Staff of President Surangel Whipps regarding his participation in the forum meeting have not been answered.

The president and his delegation are in the US for a series of meetings with Washington officials.

 According to the PIF media release, the meeting is expected to discuss the concerns raised by Micronesian countries relating to the Forum. 

Earlier this year Palau, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, and Nauru have begun the process of withdrawal from the Forum.

All are exiting the forum in protest of their Micronesian candidate not securing the Secretary-General post.  

The meeting is also expected to discuss COVID-19 recovery. The leaders are expected to come out with a draft declaration on preserving maritime zones in the face of sea-level rise related to climate change.

The meeting will also mark the beginning of the 50th anniversary of regional grouping with Fiji to assume the Chair of the PIF at this 51st session under the theme Security and Prosperity in Unity: 50 Years of the forum.

The meeting will also include Tuvalu Prime Minister Hon. Kausea Natano, handing over as Forum Chair to host of the 51st Islands Forum and Related Meetings, Fiji Prime Minister  Frank Bainimarama.

“As we commemorate our 50 years of shared aspirations and history in the Pacific, we also find ourselves at a defining juncture in our history and we are faced with unprecedented political, economic, and socio-economic challenges across the region. This first meeting is the beginning of a series of meetings that will see Forum Leaders convene over the next 5 – 6 months to continue to dialogue and work through the challenges before us and to advocate and progress our priorities as a collective” said the Incoming Chair and Prime Minister of Fiji.

 The August 6 meeting will be the first of a series of meetings in the combining months with the Forum Chair leading virtual dialogues with civil society, the private sector, 

 An in-person Leaders Retreat is planned for Fiji in January 2022.

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