His Excellency President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih met with the President of the Republic of Palau, His Excellency Surangel S. Whipps, Jr., on the sidelines of the 76th Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). The meeting took place today at the United Nations Headquarters (UNHQ) in New York City.
Discussions during the meeting centred on Covid-19, environment and climate change, and tourism. President Solih inquired about the Covid-19 situation in Palau, praising the Palauan government's prompt response to the pandemic. He discussed the challenges the Maldives has experienced as a result of having to close its borders, as well as the Maldives' determination to vaccinate the entire population as soon as possible.
The Palauan President noted that Covid-19 is well under control in Palau with the closing of borders and that no one has so far been hospitalised or died of the virus. He further noted that Palau has much to learn from the Maldives on re-opening the borders and re-starting the tourism sector.
The two leaders spoke extensively about the climate crisis, which they both struggle with as Small Island Developing States (SIDS). Noting the common membership of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), President Solih and the President of Palau expressed confidence in each other to work together on international fora to ensure that mitigation policies are effective and to gain momentum. The talks then focused on ensuring sustainable ocean governance and a blue economy.
In connection to this discussion, the Palauan President invited President Solih to attend the Seventh Our Ocean Conference to be held in Palau from 16-17 February 2022. President Solih praised Palau's President for his leadership in advocating for the 1.5 ° C global warming limit, as well as being one of the first countries to ratify the Paris Agreement. They committed to working together even more closely in the fight against climate change at the upcoming COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland.
President Solih and Palauan President also agreed to improve tourism cooperation and exchange expertise in sustainable tourism practices. The meeting concluded with the two Presidents expressing hope for enhanced bilateral ties on issues of common concern in the near future and in the long term. The Maldives and Palau established diplomatic ties on October 17, 2014.