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Hon Prime Minister Offers Former British High Commission Residence to UK Government in Anticipation of British Re-Engagement in the Pacific

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18th April 2018 The Prime Minister, Hon Samuela ‘Akilisi Pohiva today offered the former British High Commissioner’s Residence in Nuku’alofa to the Government of the United Kingdom in anticipation of the British Government’s re-engagement in the Pacific islands region in the wake of the United Kingdom’s planned exit from the European Union within 12 months.

The offer was made during the Hon Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs’ intervention at the Ministerial Roundtable hosted by the Permanent Under Secretary and Head of the Diplomatic Service at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) of the British Government, Sir Simon McDonald, for the Ministers’ of Foreign Affairs of the Pacific Island Countries that are members of the Commonwealth. The Roundtable was held at the Intercontinental London Park Lane hotel in London on 16 April in the buildup to the official opening of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting 2018 by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace.

In his opening remarks Sir Simon McDonald said the United Kingdom was leaving the European Union in 12 months’ time and the British Government will soon announce officially that it was re-engaging with the South Pacific which will involve the re-opening of its missions in some Pacific Islands. He did not specifically identify Tonga as being one of those countries.

In his intervention, Hon Samuela ‘Akilisi Pohiva said, “The British Government’s re-engagement in the South Pacific is music to Tongan ears and I take the opportunity to offer the British Government the use of its former Residence in Nuku’alofa from which you departed 12 years ago.”

The Hon Prime Minister also added, “In fact before I departed Nuku’alofa for CHOGM I had asked the Chief of Staff of His Majesty’s Armed Forces to please deploy some of his men to repair the fence of the Residence as well as the minor damage to parts of the building that had been caused by TC Gita.”

The Roundtable had originally been planned to be hosted by the British Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, the Rt Hon Boris Johnson, but because a crucial debate was taking place in the British Parliament over the United Kingdom’s role in the bombing of Syria over the weekend, Sir Simon McDonald took over the hosting. Other participants from the Pacific Islands included, Hon Tuilaepa Malielegaoi, Prime Minister of Samoa, Hon Baron Waqa MP, President of Nauru, as well as Ministers from the other Pacific countries.

On his arrival in London on Saturday, 14 April, the Hon Prime Minister and his delegation was greeted at London Heathrow Airport by the last British High Commissioner to Tonga, His Excellency Mr. Paul Nessling, Special Representative of the Foreign Secretary. The greeting party included Tonga’s Acting High Commissioner to the Court of St James, Sione Sonata Tupou. Mr. Nessling informed the Hon Prime Minister that although he had left Tonga on 1 April 2006 he still keenly followed all the news about Tonga, by reading matangitonga online.

ENDS

Issued by the Prime Minister's Office

 

 

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