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Public Papers - 1990

Remarks at the Conclusion of the Pacific Island Nations-United States Summit in Honolulu, Hawaii


Distinguished friends, it's been a great pleasure to greet you here in the Pacific, here in the United States. We've just completed an unprecedented dialog on a wide range of mutual interests and concerns. In particular, we emphasize that America shares the islands' vision of the region's future -- seeing the Pacific not as a great ocean of small islands and tiny populations, but rather as an aquatic continent -- the world's largest -- covering a full third of the Earth's surface. Like a string of pearls spread out across the sea, each nation is unique, each is precious, and each has something to contribute to the value of the whole.

The Pacific Islands have a special place in the minds and hearts of the American people. And, on my own visits, starting almost 50 years ago, I witnessed the natural charm of the island peoples and the natural beauty of the islands. Their reputation is well-deserved. With island jurisdictions of our own, we are also proud of America's special place in the extended family of Pacific nations. We enjoy close relations linked by many bonds of friendship and family. Today, we share this great aquatic continent as partners in peace, bound together in an oceanic community pledged to protect both new democracies and worthy old traditions.

During World War II, many Americans journeyed to the Pacific Islands to help protect our shared heritage of freedom and peace. And today we have returned, this time to help protect our shared heritage of beauty and nature. That is why, just last month, I signed the Convention for the Protection of the Natural Resources and Environment of the South Pacific Region and promptly sent it to the Senate for ratification.

Similarly, we have directed our Ambassador in New Zealand to sign the Wellington Convention, a major new step in dealing with the challenge of driftnet fishing. We also described our plan to host the first round of discussions for a framework convention on global climate change beginning in Washington next February 4th. This effort is being bolstered by the world's largest environmental research program -- our administration's initiative to commit about billion a year to explore the causes and effects of climate change.

We also shared a valuable discussion on one program of particular concern to the island nations and of particular concern and importance to our global arms control efforts -- the destruction of all chemical weapons on Johnston Island. We emphasized our common interest in ridding the world of these terrible weapons and asked for their understanding and support in this significant step towards peace and disarmament.

We assured the leaders that we plan to dispose of only the chemical munitions from the Pacific theater currently stored at Johnston Atoll, any obsolete materials found in the Pacific Islands, and those relatively small quantities shipped from Germany. We confirmed that these munitions will be destroyed safely on a prioritized schedule and that, once the destruction is completed, we have no plans to use Johnston Atoll for any other chemical munitions purpose or as a hazardous waste disposal site.

We also assured the leaders that the safeguards we're employing ensure that there will be no associated environmental damage. And we expressed the hope that they would accept our offer for a technical team, sponsored by the South Pacific Forum, to visit Johnston Atoll to independently monitor the operation. Today the United States has rededicated itself to lasting security in the region -- a security which comes not so much from force of arms but through nurturing of free people, free markets, free economies.

In order to strengthen these economies, we were pleased to announce several initiatives. First, we proposed establishing a joint commercial commission with the island nations to meet each year at senior government levels to identify and address commercial opportunities and trade concerns. Second, we announced that the Overseas Private Investment Corporation would establish two new funds, an Asian Pacific growth fund and an environmental investment fund, to respectively assist private sector and natural resource development. In addition, OPIC will lead a 1991 mission of American investors to Pacific island countries. And third, we announced our plan to begin negotiations to extend the South Pacific Regional Fisheries Treaty. And fourth, the addition of AID private sector assistance programs to enhance agricultural and marine resource development. And fifth, three new programs -- educational exchanges sponsored by the East-West Center and USIA.

And further, I would also like to announce an extension of our APEC [Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation] Partnership for Education Initiative to include the Pacific island countries. This last initiative will enhance educational links all across the Pacific, through both the public and private sector.

I am very pleased that you all came. Like the early Pacific navigators who braved the seas alone so that others could follow, you have come to Hawaii today to help chart a new course for the children of the Pacific -- the children of tomorrow. Together, we are moving forward. And together, we're racing toward a new era in the Century of the Pacific. Together, we and the island nations can ensure it is, indeed, a new era of peace and growth.

Thank you -- all of you -- for this visit. You've shown us friendship. You've shown leadership in promoting democracy and economic progress. I simply want to wish each and every one of you the very best. The frankness of the exchange, the chance to exchange ideas has been extraordinarily beneficial to me, and I expect those American officials with me feel exactly the same way. We look forward to working with you as together we face the enormous challenges of the future. So, thank you and God speed you on your journeys home. Thank you all very, very much.

Note: The President spoke at 1:45 p.m. in the Wailana Room at the Center for Cultural Interchange Between East and West. At the summit, the President met with representatives of the Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, the Cook Islands, Papua New Guinea, Western Samoa, Fiji, Nauru, Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, and Kiribati. In the morning the President attended a plenary session, and in the afternoon he attended a working luncheon for the summit participants.

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