The following is attributable to Spokesperson Ned Price:
Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman met with Tongan Prime Minister and Minister of Defense Siaosi Sovaleni and Foreign Minister Fekitamoeloa ‘Utoikamanu in Nuku’alofa, Tonga, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of bilateral relations and discuss the process to establish a U.S. embassy on Nuku’alofa as the next milestone in expanding bilateral relations. The visit came just days after Tonga reopened its borders for international travel. Deputy Secretary Sherman, Prime Minister Sovaleni, and Foreign Minister ‘Utoikamanu also discussed expanding U.S.-Tongan cooperation in a range of areas, including humanitarian relief, public health assistance, combating climate change, and regional security issues. The Deputy Secretary and Prime Minister participated in a signing ceremony for a U.S. grant award of $100,000 to Tonga’s Ministry of Meteorology, Energy, Information, Disaster Management, Environment, Climate Change and Communications (MEIDECC). The grant, which reaffirms the United States’ commitment to Tonga and is one of 10 climate grants that will be issued worldwide in 2022 by the Department of State, will aid in the repair and rehabilitation of solar-powered freezer systems on Tonga’s outer islands that were damaged by the January volcanic eruption and tsunami.