CNMI, GUAM, HAWAI‘I TO HAVE VOICE IN COMPACT RENEGOTIATIONS

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SAIPAN, Northern Mariana Islands (May 13, 1999 – PACNEWS)---Negotiators responsible for considering renewal of provisions of the Compacts of Free Association with the Marshall Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia will hear the concerns of the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands (CNMI), Guam and Hawai‘i when renegotiation of the agreements begin in October.

Outgoing U.S. Office of Insular Affairs Director Allen Stayman, who will assume his new post as U.S. State Department special Compact negotiator next month, said the three US island entities would be officially represented at the negotiating table.

Stayman said Hawai‘i would be represented by its senators, Guam by its delegate to Congress and the CNMI by its resident representative to Washington.

"On the agenda would be discussion of the financial and program assistance provisions of the Compacts, which established the political association of the Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) and Palau -- collectively known as the Freely Associated States (FAS) -- with the United States," Stayman said.

The Compact that covers the Marshall Islands will expire on October 21, 2001, and that with the FSM on November 3, 2001. Hawai‘i, Guam and the CNMI are the main hosts to FAS citizens who, under the Compacts, are allowed to enter U.S. territories virtually without restriction.

The governments of the three island areas have expressed concern over the economic impact of the presence of the FAS Micronesians in their jurisdictions.

They also have complained about not being represented when the Compacts were negotiated between 1984 and 1985.

The Compacts guarantee the provision of education, medical and other state benefits to the immigrant Micronesians. The costs are shouldered by local governments but are to be reimbursed by the U.S. federal government through congressional appropriations.

The Association of Pacific Island Legislatures earlier passed a resolution creating a task force to look into specific problems associated with the Compacts of the Free Association and how the open door migration policy affects U.S. Pacific territories.

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