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Shock Pacific Islands Forum move

Guam has announced its intentions to join the Pacific Islands Forum following a historic meeting between Pacific island leaders and United States president Joe Biden.

“The Pacific Islands Forum is seen as the united front for all the Pacific island leaders,” declared Guam Governor Lou Leon Guerrero.

“It’s the forum that is in unity and will strengthen our voice in the Pacific Islands here with the United States.”

Guam became a US territory in 1898 and was placed under the jurisdiction of the US Navy. The Guam Organic Act of 1950 conferred US citizenship on Guamanians and established the territory’s government. The Act also transferred Federal jurisdiction over Guam from the US Navy to the Department of the Interior.

Individuals born in Guam are considered citizens of the US. Residents of Guam cannot vote in federal elections, but they do elect a delegate to the US House of Representatives, who serves for a term of two years and has limited voting abilities.

Guam's Governor Lou Leon Guerrero. Picture Governor Lou Leon Guerrero Facebook
Guam’s Governor Lou Leon Guerrero. Guam has announced its intentions to join the Pacific Islands Forum following a historic meeting between Pacific island leaders and United States president Joe Biden. Picture: Governor Lou Leon Guerrero Facebook

This move is being viewed by many as a possible move by the island nation to move away from the US administration and become a sovereign nation rather than being a US territory.

On the opposite side of the coin, some believe that Guam could easily push the US agenda through the Forum. Guam remains a key military base for the US.

Ms Guerrero mentioned that Guam was at a special place within the Pacific and this was highlighted during the high level meeting in Washington.

“Guam was recognised as a key player in this part of the world. We are the epicentre of national security here in Guam. As a result of that, our notoriety and our importance is impacted and is very much acknowledged to the point that in the first session I was actually sitting right next to the secretary of state,” she said.

“The seating is because of our stature and our importance in the whole national security realm of the United States and because, also of our great relationships with the federal government. They saw us as a great impactor and influencer with our island nations.”

US defence forces aircraft in Guam where the US has a strong military presence. Picture US Military Update
US defence forces aircraft in Guam where the US has a strong military presence. Picture: US Military Update

She noted that included in the 18 Forum members are Australia and New Zealand in addition to smaller island nations.

“As a US territory, being a full member in the Forum would indicate that Guam is on an equal level with the island nations,” she said.

Meanwhile Kiribati remains at loggerheads with the Forum and no indication has been given by its president if the nation would be joining the regional body again.

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