Bairiki, Tarawa – 27 May 2014
The President of the United States of America, His Excellency Barack Obama welcomed Kiribati’s Ambassador to the United States – Her Excellency Makurita Baaro, at the White House Oval Office in a Presentation of Credential ceremony last week.
During the ceremony, Ambassador Baaro conveyed the warm greetings of President Anote Tong, the Government and people of Kiribati to President Obama and his family and through him to the Government and people of the United States.
Ambassador Baaro highlighted the importance that Kiribati accords to its historic ties and relationship with the Government and people of the United States and her commitment and that of her country to work on strengthening these diplomatic and people to people ties during her tenure as Kiribati Ambassador to the United States.
Ambassador Baaro also highlighted during the credentials ceremony the challenges facing her people from climate change and the need for global action to address the plight of frontline states like Kiribati who are now experiencing these challenges from rise in sea levels, coastal erosion, ocean acidification and the growing brackishness of ground water sources.
“We are doing what we can at the national level to address these challenges but Kiribati just cannot do it alone,” She added.
Ambassador Baaro emphasized that “This is one challenge that is larger than any of us and one that requires collective global action. We look to the global leadership of the United States of America to assist frontline states like Kiribati to mobilise and gain the much needed traction for global action to address the climate calamity that is not only affecting us. It is affecting us now but will eventually affect the whole global community.”
In extending a warm welcome to Ambassador Baaro, President Obama said that “your presence in the United States is very timely because of the compelling and sobering story Kiribati has to share with the world regarding the threat climate change poses to your people. As Ambassador to United States and Permanent Representative to the UN, I encourage you to be a strong advocate for an ambitious global response to climate change.”
President Obama added that “The United States stands with you in this mission, both for the sake of your people’s posterity and ours”
Ambassador Makurita Baaro is the first resident Kiribati Ambassador accredited to the United States of America.
The very first Kiribati Roving Ambassador to the United States was His Excellency Atanraoi Baiteke who was also the first Secretary for Foreign Affairs for Kiribati after the country gained independence in 1979.
Kiribati and the United States enjoy a close relationship since establishing diplomatic relations in 1980. The two countries work closely together on a broad range of issues, from strengthening regional security, to promoting sustainable development and addressing climate change, to protecting fisheries and the environment.