Sat. Aug 24th, 2019

US vows to fast track COFA talks

The recent meeting of the leaders of Micronesia and United States Secretary of State Michael Pompeo ended up with the US promising that it would like to conclude the negotiations on the expiring financial package of the Compact of Free Association (COFA) by the end of 2020.

Vice President Raynold Oilouch, who represented Palau during a meeting with Pompeo in the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) on August 5, told the press that Pompeo conveyed to the Micronesian leaders the intention of US President Donald Trump to fast track the COFA negotiations, saying “the sooner, the better.”

Oilouch said that the leaders of FSM, the Republic of Marshall Islands, and Palau had agreed to have a joint negotiating team for the upcoming COFA review discussions.

Pompeo had announced during the meeting that Trump got an approval from the US Congress to settle the COFA early, Oilouch said.

Secretary Pompeo first announced the US plan to begin the negotiation to extend the expiring provision of the COFA agreement, particularly the financial provision, during his first visit in FSM.

FSM, RMI, and Palau share a special relationship with the United States under separate COFA agreements where the latter provides financial assistance for a defined period of time and also provision of defense to the island nations.

The financial mechanism under the COFA with RMI and FSM are due to expire in 2023 while the COFA financial package for Palau is also due to end in 2024. (By Rhealyn C. Pojas and Kerdeu Uong)