Palau, FSM, RMI presidents eye joint visits to Washington D.C.
Hagatna, Guam- President Tommy Remengesau Jr.; President Peter Christian of the Federated States of Micronesia; and President Hilda Heine, of the Marshall Islands, gathered in Guam last week for the annual Micronesian Presidents Summit (MPS) to discuss a joint visit to Washington D.C. to discuss the Freely Associated States (FAS) relationships with the United States. [restrict]
The one-day meeting was held at the FSM Consular Office on Guam with the leaders concluding the meeting with signing of a communiqué to formalize agreements and cooperation on issues of important regional interest.
“The presidents considered a joint presidents’ visit to Washington DC to discuss issues relating to the Freely Associated States (FAS) jurisdictions. They further agreed to task staff of their respective embassies in Washington D.C. to work on the possibility of a Joint Presidents’ Visit,” according to the communiqué signed.
In the communiqué the president also said the Washington D.C. meeting will be an opportunity to identify key priority areas to bring up with the U.S. government.
One priority for the three countries’ is the climate change and U.S. government’s planned pull out from the Paris Agreement.
Another key issue the presidents want discuss in their planned visit to Washington D.C. is the FAS contributions to the U.S. Several FAS citizens live, work and study in the U.S. as part of their respective Compact of Free Association agreements.
In last year’s MPS, Remengesau had urged the two leaders to support Palau in conveying its frustration to the U.S. government on the non-passage of the Compact aid to Palau.
Palau and the U.S. concluded a review of the Compact of Free Association on Sept. 3, 2010, and signed a 15-year extension agreement that includes a $250 million package of assistance for Palau through 2024.
However, the U.S. Congress has yet to appropriate permanent funding for Palau.
Since 2010, Palau has gotten a yearly disbursement from the U.S. as part of the approved financial package. Palau gets at least $13 million every year but the U.S. Department of the Interior taps other funding sources to fulfill its obligation under the Compact.
Other issues that the three presidents committed themselves in tackling are issues on health, drought, Micronesian Shipping Commission, transnational crime units and small island states funding. [/restrict]