MARSHALLS PUT U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE ALBRIGHT ON NOTICE REGARDING KWAJALEIN

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MAJURO, Marshall Islands – (May 12, 2000 – Marshall Islands Journal)---Lawyers for Kwajalein landowners delivered an ultimatum last week to U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright: talk to us within 14 days or we will start actions to remove the United States from the Kwajalein missile range. The Kwajalein demand comes as the Clinton administration and the U.S. Congress are debating funding for theater and national missile defense systems, which are now being field-tested at Kwajalein.

Scott C. Taylor, who is representing Kwajalein Senators Imata Kabua, Ataji Balos and Sato Maie among other prominent landowners, delivered the ultimatum to Secretary of State Albright on May 1, demanding to talk with State Department negotiator Allen Stayman.

Both Stayman and the RMI national government have turned a cold shoulder to requests to talk with the Kwajalein landowners, he said.

Stayman told the lawyers that they should address their concerns to the RMI government. But Taylor said the national government doesn’t own land at Kwajalein and "has no authority to speak or act on behalf of the Kwajalein landowners."

The RMI government "has declined to participate in our efforts and has failed to recognize or address the concerns of the displaced people of Kwajalein," Taylor said in his May 1 letter.

While Kwajalein landowners do not want to jeopardize any aspect of U.S. missile testing, "we do, however, intend to address by whatever means necessary what we see as grossly inadequate payments to our clients for the use of Kwajalein, which is unquestionably invaluable to the U.S.," he said.

Taylor asked Albright for an "opportunity" to discuss these issues with Stayman. "If we are unable to do so within 14 days, we will be left with no alternative but to begin proceedings, on which we believe we stand on firm legal ground, to remove the U.S. from Kwajalein," he said.

Landowners would prefer to reach an agreement that would provide fair compensation to the landowners as well as secure for the U.S. its continued presence at Kwajalein, without interruption, for an agreed upon duration, Taylor said.

 

RMI READY TO WORK WITH KWAJALEIN OWNERS

MAJURO – Marshall Islands (May 18, 2000 – Marshall Islands Journal)---RMI’s Foreign Minister Alvin Jacklick has repeatedly told Kwajalein landowners that the national government is happy to raise any issues the landowners want addressed in upcoming negotiations with the U.S., a Cabinet official told the Journal.

"We’ve been most cooperative in raising issues (for Kwajalein)," said Minister Gerald Zackios, who indicated that the same couldn’t be said for the landowners.

His comments were made in reaction to a letter from Kwajalein attorney Scott Taylor to U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

Commenting on Taylor’s contention that the RMI has no authority to act on behalf of Kwajalein, Zackios said the land use agreement for Kwajalein is a "legally binding agreement between the RMI government and the landowners," which guarantees U.S. use of Kwajalein.

It is a government-to-government agreement so any discussions on Kwajalein have to go through the government, he said.

The Marshall Islands Journal, Box 14, Majuro, Marshall Islands 96960 E-mail: journal@ntamar.com  Subscriptions (weekly): 1 year US $87.00; international $213.00 (air mail).

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