Vice President Pence security stalls traditional welcome

 

United States Vice President Pence, his wife and Governor Lolo and wife at the Tafuna International Airport 90 minute stop over early this evening

SOURCE: Tala Nei, American Samoa

PAGO PAGO, SUNDAY, 23 APRIL 2017: A traditional welcome for Vice President Mike Pence did not take place during his 90 minute stop over at Pago Pago International Airport early this evening.

The guest house at the airport had been laden with tapa and decorated mats and chairs were placed at the part of the fale reserved for high chiefs from a visiting party.

But as Pence emerged from Air Force 2 with his wife and several dark suited Secret Service agents, word filtered through that due to security concerns the ava ceremony would be scrapped.

Vice President Pence was greeted on the tarmac by Governor and Mrs Lolo Moliga, Congresswoman Aumua Amata, Lt Governor Lemanu Peleti Mauga, Chief Justice Michael Kruse, House Speaker Savali Talavou Ale and Secretary of Samoan Affairs Mauga Tasi Asuega.

A Department of Public Safety honor guard stood at attention as the delegation made their way to the VIP room.

About 200 army reservists waited to be reviewed by the Vice President, and Leone High School’s Swing choir had gathered an hour earlier to sing and perform a mauluulu and sāsā for the visitors.

After a few minutes in the VIP Room, Vice President Pence and Governor Lolo Moliga exited  and walked towards the Samoan fale, the VP waving and smiling to the crowd.

Republican John Raynar shouted “Welcome Mr. Vice President, How about an interview Mr Vice President?”

Governor Lolo apologized in Samoan that due to security the ava ceremony will not take place.

Then Governor Lolo gave remarks in English and introduced the second most important man in America.

Bringing the well wishes of American President Donald Trump, Pence said: “We’re finishing a busy week traveling the Asia Pacific. Of course, we have to come to American Samoa..to say how proud we are…as evidence of our commitment to the Asia Pacific. We are here to say we are here for peace, we are here for the prosperity of all of our people and we are proud the American flag flies in American Samoa.”

She said it well

He was then presented traditional gifts of a sua, tapa, an ava bowl and the whisk and staff by Miss American Samoa, Antonnina Maiava.

The Vice President then viewed the Army Reserve troops just outside the departure lounge.

He also unveiled a 6 foot tall sign bearing the new name of the Veterans Affairs Outpatient Clinic at Tafuna: Eni F.H. Faleomavaega VA Clinic, named after the late Congressman.

Pence and his entourage didn’t have time to see and sample a Sunday to’anai catered by Tausala Café which was set up in the middle of the terminal building. But they took plates of food with them on Air Force Two when they departed en-route to Honolulu. Congresswoman Aumua Amata is traveling with the Vice president back to Washington D.C.

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