Secretary Antony J. Blinken And Papua New Guinea Prime Minister James Marape Before Their Meeting

PRIME MINISTER MARAPE: Thank you very much for your generosity and time. I know you have been very, very busy yourself – G20, traveling halfway around the world. For you to give me and my group a moment of your time is a sign of your purity and kindness. Apart from the fact that you have many other appointments, giving Papua New Guinea one more time to sit not only with you, but closer to (inaudible) US President Biden, which I think is very kind. We left the Oval Office that night –

BLINKEN SECRETARY: I remember. (Laughs.)

PRIME MINISTER MARAPE: – and I told the President it was really amazing. This (inaudible) entered the owl’s office after dinner, and it just continued (inaudible) interface, and not only in the government to the government, but more importantly at this level of close connectivity. So I appreciate the fact that you worked this time for us.

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BLINKEN SECRETARY: I have to say, Prime Minister, I don’t think I’ll ever forget that evening. It was just a wonderful evening on so many levels with all of our colleagues from the Pacific Islands, and it was especially memorable to be in the Oval Office with you, and the President, and our other colleagues. Some great stories were shared, which I don’t need to share with our colleagues here today. But I think it reflects the great importance that the President of the United States places on our partnership and our relationship with the Pacific Island countries. We have reaffirmed that commitment over the last year, starting with my February visit to the region, but especially with the summit between Pacific Island countries and the United States hosted by the President.

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We are committed to these partnerships, but not only for partnerships, to do well in many initiatives that we opened together during the summit, and we will have the opportunity to talk about it. We are also very excited to open a new embassy in Moresby. We hope to have it later this month. It’s a practical thing, but it’s also symbolic of a relationship, a partnership, and we’re grateful for that. And I understand you could technically be our landlord, Prime Minister.

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PRIME MINISTER MARAPE: You are in good condition. (Laughs.)

BLINKEN SECRETARY: And we know if we need a light bulb or something –

PRIME MINISTER MARAPE: Yes, I am there. We have everything for you.

BLINKEN SECRETARY: – we know where to go. But Prime Minister, I will just say that all of this is a demonstration of the bond that we have – history, values, especially people to people, things we talk about. And I really appreciate that you would take the time to join the conversation today, so thank you.


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