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HONOLULU, Hawai‘i (April 27, 2001 – Marshall Islands Journal)---The Marshall Islands and U.S. governments convened at U.S. Pacific Command Headquarters, Camp Smith, earlier this month for the annual High Level Joint Committee Meeting (JKCM). The JCM meetings are one of the mechanisms in the Compact (of Free Association) to address defense issues.

RMI delegation head, Minister Alvin Jacklick, conveyed the government’s openness to the U.S. government in addressing defense and security issues of mutual interest for both governments. The discussions on the key issues generally revolved around the RMI-US military relationship and the infrastructure and social well-being of the Ebeye community, a Foreign Ministry release said.

A positive outcome of the JCM meeting was a cooperation commitment made by the U.S. Departments of State, Defense and Interior to work with the RMI government toward addressing these issues successfully. Such concrete efforts include:

· The possibility of extending the cut-off date from July 1, 2001 to October 1, 2001 for health care of non-grandfathered employees at USAKA Hospital, in anticipation of the revised opening date of the new Ebeye Hospital.

· Exploring options to remedy the fuel supply situation of the Kwajalein Atoll Joint Utility Resources (KAJUR) operations.

· Joint investigative efforts on alleged infringements of RMI employee rights at the Kwajalein Missile Range.

In addition, the U.S. presented informative briefings and updates of the various assistance and programs it provides to the RMI government. Another issue was the RMI’s outstanding debt to the U.S. government. Minister Jacklick presented a payment to Colonel Lloyd Rowe for the RMI debts at USKA as a demonstration of the RMI government’s efforts in rectifying the problem.

Admiral Dennis Blair, Commander in Chief, Pacific Command (CINCPAC) opened the one-day meeting and provided an update on the U.S. military plane incident in China before turning the meeting over to the co-heads of the U.S. Delegation. Ambassador Mike Senko expressing his willingness to engage with the RMI government to address the issues before the JCM.

Colonel Rowe expressed his optimism for a productive meeting. Accompanying Colonel Rowe and Ambassador Senko were representatives from the Department of State, Interior, Kwajalein Army Missile Range Command, United States Space Missile Defense Command and CINCPAC.

Joining Minister Jacklick at the JCM were Senator Ataji Balos, Ambassador Banny deBrum and representatives from KADA, RMI-ADB Ebeye Project, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Lieutenant Colonel Steven Veal, on behalf of the USAKA/KMR Commander, hosted a diner reception for the JCM participants.

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

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