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Variety News Staff

HAGATNA, Guam (November 5, 1998 - Marianas Variety)---With the elections over, winning Guam Delegate Robert Underwood said he will now concentrate on the preparations for President Clinton's visit to Guam on November 14-15.

"I will go back to Washington to do preparations for the President's visit and hopefully be able to accompany him out here," Underwood told the Variety in an interview.

"I want to make sure that for the time that the President is here, he will have a fuller understanding of what Guam is all about. It may be one of the few times that we'll get his attention on several items unique to Guam. So I feel very strongly that we should take advantage of the moment."

Underwood said he will try to get the President involved in the discussions about Guam's strategic military role.

"We should make the local-federal partnership work and help the President understand the economic situation we're in here on Guam because of military downsizing and the Asian recession."

Underwood added that the presidential visit will also help Clinton have a deeper understanding of the people of Guam.

"He will have a chance to hear the Guam story ... to understand what makes Guam so unique. The people of Guam have one foot firmly planted in the Pacific while the other foot is in the United States. We're in a very unique situation and we want the President to fully appreciate that fact," he said.

Usually, the President makes policy announcements when he travels abroad. Underwood is hoping that the President is going to make some policy announcements about Guam. "We understand that he may have six or seven hours of activity related to Guam, so we're hopeful."

"Of course, he's also on island to adjust himself to the dramatic time change between Washington and Malaysia," Underwood added. "So he also wants some leisure time to recharge and prepare himself for the APEC conference. He might want to play a round of golf. I know the President wants to attend some kind of fiesta on Guam and have some recreational time."

The President's visit here does not come as a surprise for Underwood.

"It was something that we discussed several times. It was simply looking for the opportune time. It was obvious of course that he will not visit Guam solely. So when the APEC opportunity came for him to visit Guam, he took it."

As early as May of this year, Underwood said he already extended an invitation for the President to visit Guam. In a White House meeting with the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, Underwood took the opportunity to take up several Guam issues with the President.

"I raised two specific items with him relative to Guam. First, I reminded him that Guam was part of the Spanish-American War. I pointed out that most of the war was actually fought in the Pacific, as opposed to the Caribbean, and that as Guam was commemorating the 100th anniversary, it would be a nice touch if he would find the time to go to Guam this year."

Underwood said that during that meeting, the President, as on previous occasions, reiterated his interest in visiting Guam and indicated that his staff was still trying to work a visit into his schedule. "He said he wanted very much to go to Guam."

The President's visit here, Underwood added, is a very strong statement about Guam's importance to the United States.

"And it is a statement about the high esteem that the President has for the people of Guam."

For additional reports from the Marianas Variety, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/Marianas Variety.

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