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Fiji's New Ambassador to the US Meets Obama

On Wednesday 20th May 2009 Fiji's new Ambassador to the United States of America His Excellency Mr. Winston Thompson presented his credentials to President Obama at the Oval Office the White House. Ambassador Thompson was accompanied by Mrs. Queenie Thompson and their four children.

In his prepared Remarks delivered to President Obama during the Credentialing Ceremony Ambassador Thompson congratulated President Obama on his historical election:

"The Government and the People of Fiji would also like to acknowledge Your Excellency's historical election to the high office of President. Your
ascendency has given the People of the Fiji Islands great optimism that a new dawn has arrived in the history of US - Fiji relations."

Ambassador Thompson also thanked the President for US disaster relief assistance following Fiji's worst flooding in its history:

"Allow me also to thank Your Excellency and the Government and People of the United States of America for the invaluable assistance recently provided to the People of the Fiji Islands in the aftermath of the worst flooding in Fiji's history."

Recognizing the long standing relations between Fiji and the US Ambassador Thompson stated:

"Fiji and the United States of America are closely linked by historical and long-standing bonds of friendship, alliance, and cooperation. Our countries and people have been friends and allies even before we achieved nationhood on 10th October 1970. These bonds of affinities have been strengthened during global crises and have withstood the test of time."

"Fiji fought alongside the United States of America and other allies in the Pacific during the Second World War. Since then Fiji has responded to the call by the United States of America and the international community to provide troops to bring peace to many troubled parts of the world."

"Over the past 30 years, men and women from Fiji have served in various peace missions in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Bougainville, Cambodia, Croatia, East Slovenia, East Timor, Iraq, Kuwait, Lebanon, Namibia, Somalia, Solomon Islands, Sudan, Rwanda and Zimbabwe to name a few."

"Such a dynamic relationship rests not only on the mutuality of interests but more so on the solid foundation of shared values of democracy and free enterprise."

Referring to recent developments in Fiji Ambassador Thompson went on to say:

"In this regard despite the present political exigencies, the Fiji Government remains resolute in our commitment to restoring parliamentary
democracy in Fiji. Step by step, in keeping with the declared intentions of my Government, a new basis for political reform is emerging to provide the framework for the General Election to be held in Fiji once the more democratic electoral system is agreed upon by all parties."

"Here, I cannot fail to recall the perceptivity of your predecessor, Mr. President, annunciated in Singapore in 2006, that the United States of
America, 'recognizes that every democracy will reflect the unique culture and history of its people'.

"Like the United States of America, Fiji recognizes that essential freedoms born of democracy are universal in their reach, and we are determined to defend and advocate these freedoms as good governance and ethical benchmarks are regaining their foothold once more in our body politic."

In reply President Obama observed that Ambassador Thompson had served previously as Fiji's Permanent Representative to the United Nations

"I understand that you have a history of your own here in North America. I have learned that you spent six years as Permanent Representative to the United Nations and as Ambassador to Canada, our good neighbor to the north. I am pleased that the Interim Government of Fiji has sent a representative who is aware of the value of countries working together and skilled at pursuing that worthy goal. We value our long history of cooperation with Fiji, including on international peacekeeping issues and matters of mutual concern to the South Pacific nations."

Ambassador Thompson was joined by 14 other new Ambassadors from Cambodia, Barbados, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Korea, Tunisia, Peru, Serbia, Chile, Dominican Republic, India, Costa Rica, and Gambia who also presented their credentials to President Obama. This was the first time President Obama was receiving new Ambassadors since becoming President.