9 Feb 2009

US Consular office in Tonga maybe close at hand

11:24 am on 9 February 2009

A Consular office for the United States of America may up and running in Tonga in Nuku'alofa before early March.

The Acting Chief Secretary and Secretary to Cabinet, Paula Ma'u, said that negotiation on the establishment of the office was still underway and a team from the US Embassy in Suva would arrive in Nuku'alofa this month for further talks.

Paula told the online news site, Matangi Tonga, that sites for the office had been identified but the US Embassy in Suva was still awaiting confirmation from Washington.

The decision by the USA to offer a non-immigrant visa service in Nuku'alofa was the outcome of a meeting between the former US Secretary of State Dr Condoleezza Rice and Tonga's Prime Minister Dr Feleti Sevele in May last year.

The US Ambassador is very aware that many Tongans were unhappy with having to travel to Suva to receive a Non Immigrant Visa interview, as it is an expensive trip with no guarantee of success.