Guam Governor Lou Leon Guerrero has announced that Guam would apply for membership in the Pacific Islands Forum.
“The Pacific Islands Forum is seen as the united front for all the Pacific island leaders,” she said during a press conference on Monday. “It’s the forum that is in unity and will strengthen our voice in the Pacific Islands here with the United States.”
Leon Guerrero recently returned from President Joe Biden’s two-day U.S-Pacific Island Country Summit in Washington DC, where she was able to connect with leaders from more than a dozen Pacific island nations. She attended as a part of the U.S delegation to the first-ever such summit, which was held on 28 – 29 September.
During the summit, the participants met with Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry, Special Presidential Envoy for Compact Negotiations Joseph Yun, Deputy Assistant to the President and Coordinator for the Indo-Pacific Kurt Campbell and other administration officials.
Guam was “recognised as a key player in this part of the world,” Leon Guerrero said during a press conference at the Ricardo J. Bordallo Governor’s Complex at Adelup. “We are the epicentre of national security here in Guam. As a result of that, our notoriety and our importance is impacted and is very much acknowledged to the point that in the first session I was actually sitting right next to the secretary of state.”
The seating was indicative of the role Guam plays in the region, Leon Guerrero said. “(The seating) is because of our stature and our importance in the whole national security realm of the United States and because, also of our great relationships with the federal government, ” she said. “They saw us as a great impactor and influencer with our island nations.”
She noted that included in the 18 PIF members are Australia and New Zealand in addition to smaller island nations. As a U.S territory, being a full member in the PIF would indicate that Guam is on an equal level with the island nations, she said.