28 Jul 2020

Micronesian leaders working on an in-person meeting this year

2:29 pm on 28 July 2020

Leaders of Covid-free nations in Micronesia are planning an in-person meeting this year.

Palau President Tommy Remengesau Junior has declared it would be "largest in-person meeting of Pacific leaders" in 2020.

Tommy Remengesau

Tommy Remengesau Photo: AFP

Remengesau said Palau, the Marshall Islands, Nauru, Kiribati, and the Federated States of Micronesia were co-ordinating the 2020 Micronesian President's Summit, (MPS).

While the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases world-wide surpassed 16 million, the five nations were among the few in the world that had not the coronavirus.

"With our unique status of being Covid-19-free, Micronesia has a distinct advantage, and the Micronesian Presidents' Summit is the perfect opportunity to maximise that advantage through regional co-ordination.

"We are committed to getting the right solutions in place to manage this pandemic and with these critical regional challenges, the MPS has become ever more important to convene," Remengesau said.

The president, who is also the current Chair of the 19th MPS, said a date for the meeting would be announced soon.

During the MPS, he said the leaders could take advantage of their countries' Covid-free status to discuss a range of Micronesian issues including expanding debt-stress.

The president said the meeting would also be an opportunity for the leaders to talk about a regional travel bubble.

Nauru was supposed to host the 2020 MPS summit in April.

Remengesau did not say whether the upcoming meeting would be hosted by Nauru or another nation.

All five countries had closed their borders early to prevent the coronavirus from reaching its shores.

Meanwhile Remengesau told local reporters that Palau, a tourism-reliant nation, was planning to safely re-open its economy.

However he said economic recovery did not have to come at the cost of public health.

"I know we can't please everyone and everyone has a different level of fear, but I hope that we understand that we need to look at what needs to be done.

"Not just the health of the people, but the health of the economy."

The capital of Palau, Koror.

The capital of Palau, Koror. Photo: Binter via wikicommons