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MAJURO, Marshall Islands (May 19, 2000 – Marshall Islands Journal)---Iroij Anjua Loeak says lawyers who have threatened the U.S. government with removal from Kwajalein Atoll must be prepared to pay for any loss of rental income or other damages that could result from their actions.

Loeak, who is a paramount chief for about one-third of Kwajalein, was responding to attorney Scott Taylor, who on May 1 gave the U.S. government 14 days to begin direct talks with the landowners over new terms for Kwajalein or they would "begin proceedings to remove the U.S. from Kwajalein."

Loeak said that Taylor was misrepresenting the situation to U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

"I have never authorized you to represent me in this matter," he said. "Nor have I ever signed any contract or agreement in this regard."

Loeak said he was pleased last year that the U.S. government had exercised its option to extend the lease payments for an additional 15 years.

He said that under the proper circumstances, "I would be willing to authorize the U.S. to lease these lands, and any additional lands that they may require, for the remainder of the century."

While saying he’d appreciate additional compensation for use of his land, Loeak said he would rely on the RMI-U.S. negotiations to address the matter.

"I have confidence that the RMI government will listen to any concerns that I may have in this regard," he said.

Taylor’s threat to start action to remove the U.S. "is not appreciated,." he said.

The RMI government has contracts with him and the U.S. government to provide payments for his share of land at Kwajalein.

Loeak told Taylor that if the lawyuers do start proceedings to get the U.S. kicked off Kwajalein, "and such proceedings interfere with these contractual relationships, your law firm and clients must be prepared to pay for any damages, including loss of rental income, that may result from the proceedings."



MAJURO, Marshall Islands (May 19, 2000 – Marshall Islands Journal)---Foreign Minister Alvin Jacklick told the Journal Monday that Kwajalein landowners don’t want to give the U.S. the boot from Kwajalein.

"It’s the lawyers that want to kick out the U.S., not the landowners," he said.

He was commenting on the ultimatum by attorneys for Senators Imata Kabua, Ataji Batos and Sato Maie and others that the U.S. start direct talks or face removal from Kwajalein.

"I’m a landowner," he said. "The lawyers are not speaking on my behalf."

He said the lawyers don’t understand the situation at Ebeye. The landowners want the U.S. base there, he said. "You ask anyone at Kwajalein if they want to kick out the U.S., and their answer will be ‘no,’" he said.

Jacklick said that he wished the lawyers would come to the Marshalls and talk to the landowners. The handful of landowners who signed an agreement retaining the lawyers aren’t the only landowners, he said.

"We’re talking about 7,000 landowners whose life is on the line because someone wants to kick out the U.S.," he said.

If the lawyer’s letter to the U.S. was to get the RMI’s attention, Jacklick said: "I already understand the problems. I grew up on Ebeye.

"I’ve said repeatedly that the government is willing to work with the landowners. Instead, some of the landowners hired lawyers first. They should have talked with the government first, and if it didn’t work, then hire lawyers," he said.

According to the agreement signed by the landowners, the lawyers will get 20 percent of anything over $14 million. He said if the U.S. provides an additional $5 million, the lawyers will get $1 million.

"If other landowners want to pay lawyers, that’s their prerogative," he said. "But I don’t want to pay them. I’ll make sure they don’t take the 20 percent out of my share."

The Marshall Islands Journal, Box 14, Majuro, Marshall Islands 96960 E-mail: [email protected]  Subscriptions (weekly): 1 year US $87.00; international $213.00 (air mail).

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