By Andrew Cohen
Frankie Annette Reed ’79 was recently sworn in as the next United States Ambassador to Fiji, Tonga, Kiribati, Tuvalu, and Nauru. Appointed to the post by President Barack Obama in August, she will oversee diplomatic relations for these five Pacific island nations.
A longtime member of the U.S. Senior Foreign Service, Reed spent the past two years as Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of East Asia and Pacific Island Affairs. Recently elevated to the position of Minister-Counselor, a high-level diplomatic rank, Reed was a journalist and Peace Corps volunteer before joining the Foreign Service in 1983.
Her most daunting challenge looms in Fiji, where the military overthrew the country’s lawfully-elected government in December 2006. The coup created a prolonged political and economic crisis, compounded by a negative impact on tourism revenue.
The U.S. suspended military and other assistance to Fiji after the coup, under the Foreign Operations Appropriations Act. The U.S. has urged the Fijian regime to take steps to reinstate democracy by holding free and fair elections. But the military reneged on its promise to do so in 2009, and now says it will hold elections in 2014.
Reed said the U.S. will maintain its sanctions on Fiji “until there’s a return to civil government signaled by a transparent, inclusive, open-ended process including all elements of Fijian society…. I am prepared to meet with all levels of government, and civil society, and other regional partners to push for early elections and restore democracy in Fiji.”
In Tonga, Kiribati, Tuvalu, and Nauru, she will focus on combating the impact of climate change and environmental degradation. Other areas of concern are HIV/AIDS, drug smuggling, and human trafficking.
“The problem of overfishing and threatened marine resources hits hard in the Pacific,” Reed said. “Island states are dependent on fish stocks not only for the sustenance of their people, but also as a major source of government revenue.”
A former Diplomat-in-Residence at UC Berkeley, Reed served as the Consul General and Deputy U.S. Observer to the Council of Europe and European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France from 2005–2008. She also worked as Deputy Chief of Mission in Conakry, Guinea from 2003–2005, and as Deputy Chief of Mission in Apia, Samoa from 1999–2002.
Reed’s earlier assignments include Deputy Director in the Office of Australia, New Zealand, and Pacific Island Affairs; Political Section Chief in Dakar, Senegal; Political Officer in Nairobi, Kenya and Yaoundé, Cameroon; and Desk Officer in the Bureaus of African Affairs and Western Hemispheric Affairs.