Her visit also marked the 50th anniversary of diplomatic ties between the two countries.
The first woman to hold the position and the first US senior official to visit Tonga, Deputy Secretary Sherman was received by King Tupou VI, Crown Prince Tupouto’a Ulukalala and the Prime Minister, Hu’akavameiliku on the day.
At the Reception to mark the 50th Anniversary, PM Hu’akavameiliku thanked Sherman and the Government of the United States of America for the visit and her presence in Tonga.
“This is a testament to the United States Government’s strong commitment to enhancing and strengthening the partnership, and the long-standing relations between our two countries,” Hu’akavameiliku stated.
It was on the 4th October of 1972, when the United States of America, recognized the Kingdom of Tonga’s complete independence and sovereignty, resulting in the appointment of the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Nukuálofa, Kenneth Franzheun.
Seven years later, Tonga appointed her first Ambassador to the United States, the late Inoke Faletau on the 29th March 1979, and there have been ten Ambassadors appointed since.
“Our two countries do indeed enjoy a longstanding partnership and friendly ties through our Heads of States, Governments and our peoples,” Hu’akavameiliku stated.
“Our partnership is based on shared values and a close cooperation. A cooperation which has matured over the last five decades.
“Our partnership is based on our enduring people-to-people links and continuously strengthened by our mutual cooperation in so many areas of shared interest.”
Prior to the establishment of formal diplomatic relations, the two countries already agreed and signed the 1886 Treaty of Amity, Commerce and Navigation!
Fifty-five years ago, in 1967, the first group of Peace Corps Volunteers stepped foot on Tongan soil.
Ever since, Tonga has welcomed to our Friendly Islands 84 groups, with a cumulative total over 1,700 persons who served in nearly every island in Tonga.
The volunteers worked in various sectors from agriculture and fisheries to small business development and trade skills to education in science, maths and English.
While Covid19 disrupted this exchange since 2020, this year Tonga welcomes the new Country Director, Kristofer Stice.
Prior to the COVID-19 onset, travel between the two countries was frequent. With our borders open this week on the 1st August, Government anticipates family travel will restart.
“We thus welcome the recent announcement by H.E. Vice President Harris, in the margins of the Pacific Island Forum Leaders Meeting, to establish two embassies in the region, including the one here in Tonga,” Hu’akavameiliku said.
He said Tonga thanks the United States for the financial support for both the recovery from the January 15 volcano and tsunami and for being the largest financial contributor to COVAX during the COVID-19 crisis.
The Prime Minister also thanked the United States of America for extending the US Treaty on Fisheries and its contribution to Tonga’s economy.
The recent announcement by Vice President Kamala Harris on the increase of the United States Government contribution from US$21million to USD$60million over a ten year period has been welcomed by all of the Pacific countries.
The Prime Minister also proposed a Toast “To the good health and longevity of the President of the United States of America; and to the wellbeing and prosperity of the People of the United States of America”.