FSM’s Panuelo meets with Marshalls’ new president

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MAJURO (FSM Information Services) — On Jan. 20, 2020, David W. Panuelo, president of the Federated States of Micronesia, was received by David Kabua, president of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, in a courtesy call. President Panuelo was in the RMI to attend President Kabua’s inauguration, which occurred earlier in the day. Among the outcomes of the meeting included the RMI’s appreciation for the FSM’s support for the RMI to join the United Nations Human Rights Council, as well as appreciation for the FSM’s support for Gerald Zackios, ambassador of the RMI to the United States of America, to become the next secretary-general of the Pacific Islands Forum.

Two presidents — both public servants, both friends, both Davids.  FSM Information Services photo

The meeting began with President Kabua remarking on his, and the RMI’s, appreciation for President Panuelo’s attendance at his inauguration, noting that the FSM and the RMI have a bilateral relationship firmly rooted in shared values. It is the view of the FSM national government that the citizens and government of the RMI are essentially family, and this was noted in the meeting as both presidents shared their appreciation to the other for being a good host of the others’ citizens.

“Mr. President,” President Panuelo said, “thank you so much — iakwe and kommol tata. We really feel at home and, as you said, we are happy to work together. On behalf of our government and our citizens, all of us, we congratulate you. When I heard that you got elected, I said ‘Oh hey, that’s my friend!’ So I want to say that we’re proud of you, and proud of your new administration. It’s a full circle: your father was the first president of the [RMI], and now forty years later you, his second son, become the ninth president of the RMI.”

President Panuelo and President Kabua joked that they’re both the ninth president of their respective countries, and they’re both named David — it was noted that this is a sign that they must work closely together.

President Panuelo spoke about the FSM’s efforts to promote the RMI’s interests in joining the United Nations Human Rights Council, as well as the FSM’s efforts to promote Ambassador Zackios to become the next secretary-general of the Pacific Islands Forum. “Even when we were in Japan at the enthronement of his majesty, the emperor, I met with [Pacific leaders] lobbying for the RMI…because it’s a regional [and subregional] effort.”

“Your success is our success, just as our success is your success,” President Panuelo continued, noting his appreciation for the RMI’s support in ensuring the FSM hosts the United Nations Northern Pacific Multi-Country Office that will provide relevant U.N.-services to the five sovereign Micronesian nations.

President Panuelo and President Kabua also spoke, briefly, about the negotiations for the Compact of Free Association, as Amended or COFA. President Panuelo noted that, where appropriate, the new RMI administration under President Kabua can look forward to coordination and assistance with the FSM. “We look forward to coordinating our [COFA] approaches, and I assure you that my administration will work closely with yours to make sure that progress [occurs for the FSM, the RMI, and the Republic of Palau].”

The meeting ended on a positive note, with President Panuelo again congratulating President Kabua and his cabinet on their elections and inauguration.

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