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Regional News

Palau, US conduct initial Compact consultations

KOROR (Pacific Note/Pacnews) — The United States and Palau conducted an initial Compact Agreement consultation this week.

According to an earlier statement made to the local media, a team of U.S officials will be in Palau from Oct. 8 to 9 for an initial consultation on the Palau-U.S. Compact ahead of 2024 when the second provision of economic assistance ends.

Palau Vice President Raynold Oilouch said the United States requested to hold a consultation meeting or “more like a listening tour.”

“Representatives from the U.S government will be on a listening tour. They want to hear our views and the issues we want to discuss in the compact review,” Vice President Oilouch said.

The consultation meeting comes after U.S President Donald Trump vowed to open up Compact negotiations and to conclude those talks by the end of 2020.

U.S Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced Trump’s proposal in his visit to Pohnpei on Aug. 5, 2019 where he met with the leaders of Palau, the FSM, and the Marshall Islands or the Freely Associated States. Vice President Oilouch represented Palau in the meeting with Pompeo.

In preparation for the visit by the U.S officials, Palau President Tommy Remengesau created a committee composed of key executive branch ministers and members of the Palau National Congress for the meeting.

Vice President Oilouch said a memo had been issued to key government agencies for recommendations and issues deemed relevant to be brought up at the meeting.

“The U.S said they came just to listen, so we are going to take their advice and won’t be holding back on our views and what we want,” Oilouch said.

He added that based on the outcome of the consultation meetings, Palau will be in a better position to know what step to take next.

“Whether we will go ahead and establish a formal Compact review team or what is going to come after is still to be decided. This is only an initial discussion,” Oilouch said.

He said it is not clear whether the consultation will be on the financial agreement or the Compact agreement that will end in 2024.

Under the Compact of Free Association, the U.S. military has access to the airspace and waters of the Federated States of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands and Palau. In return, these nations will receive financial and other assistance from the U.S. FAS citizens can also live and work in the U.S. and its territories.