Congressman Faleomavaega announced today that in response to his request several months ago, representatives of the U.S. Department of State briefed him on plans for negotiating maritime boundary lines between American Samoa, Samoa and Tonga. The briefing team included Margaret Frailey Hayes, Director, Office of Oceans Affairs; Dr. Robert Smith, Geographer-Foreign Affairs Officer, Office of Oceans Affairs; Mark Simonoff, Attorney-Adviser, Office of the Legal Adviser, Office of Oceans International Environmental and Scientific Affairs; and Teresa Hobgood, Senior Policy Advisor, Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs.
“I am pleased that the U.S. Department of State will be holding these negotiations soon,” Congressman Faleomavaega said. “This is very important to us and our fishing industry and I am sure that the same can be said for the governments of Samoa and Tonga. The sooner these negotiations are underway, the better it will be.”
“The maritime boundary lines with Tokelau which is north of the Swains Island have already been negotiated with New Zealand. Similarly, the boundary lines with the Cook Islands to the east and Niue to the south have also been negotiated.”
“Dr. Smith and Mr. Simonoff will be representing the United States in the negotiations and will schedule courtesy visits with the Governor and our Fono prior to their official meetings in Samoa and Tonga. Both will be arriving in American Samoa on March 4, 2005 for this purpose and, after their meetings in the Independent State of Samoa, the U.S. negotiating team will proceed to Tonga for similar negotiations,” the Congressman concluded.