MARSHALL ISLANDS PRESIDENT NOTE TO D.C. FOR COMPACT TALKS

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MAJURO, Marshall Islands (October 5, 2001 – Marshall Islands Journal)---President Kessai Note will attend a United Nations meeting in Rome, Italy in November and then visit Washington, D.C. for Compact-related discussions with U.S. officials.

Foreign Minister Gerald Zackios indicated that he and the President hope to have "substantive discussions" with U.S. officials on several key Compact negotiation issues, including the U.S.’s sectoral" approach to new funding.

Note and Zackios will join R&D Minister John Silk at the opening of the Food and Agriculture Organization meeting in Rome in early November, and they then will head back to Washington.

"If not formal talks, we will still have substantive discussions;" he said.

Zackios indicated that the RMI wanted to have serious discussion about the apparent U.S. intention of implementing a new sectoral approach to future grant funding.

The U.S. is already using the concept in its negotiations with the Federated States of Micronesia, and the General Accounting Office is completing a study related to this, Zackios said.

"We need to talk with the U.S. to see how it will work for us," he said.

The sectoral approach differs from the first 15 years of Compact funding in that instead of money being provided in a block grant for education or health that allows local authorities flexibility to use according to their priorities, grant money is earmarked specifically for projects within a single sector.

Except for Papua New Guinea, it hasn’t been used to a great extent in the Pacific, which is one cause for the RMI’s concern of whether it is an appropriate blueprint for the RMI, or if used, how it will work in the RMI.

"We need to fully appreciate (the U.S. sectoral approach) before we can be totally committed to it," he said.

 

RMI HOPES STAYMAN RESIGNATION WILL NOT DELAY COMPACT

MAJURO, Marshall Islands (October 5, 2001 – Marshall Islands Journal)---RMI’s Foreign Minister Gerald Zackios is hopeful that the resignation of U.S. Compact negotiator Al Stayman and the situation caused by the terrorist attacks in the U.S. will not seriously delay ongoing negotiations between the two countries.

Zackios told the Journal this week that obviously both events would have some effect on the progress of the negotiations. "But I’ve told the U.S. Ambassador (Mike Senko) and our Washington Ambassador (Banny deBrum) that we want to maintain the schedule as much as possible," he said.

The next formal round of talks was set for November when the last round ended in July.

"We have to give consideration to what has happened, but at the same time we want to maintain the momentum," he said.

There has been no replacement yet named for Stayman, who resigned effective two weeks ago.

However, Zackios indicated that U.S. officials have said that Mike Spangler, the former deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Majuro is the acting head of the State Department’s Compact negotiation office in the interim.

Zackios said that in recent informal discussions with U.S. officials he has reiterated the RMI’s desire to see a higher-level person appointed as chief U.S. negotiator. "We still want a person with the authority to discuss issues," he said. "We’d prefer an ambassador-level appointment, but if it falls short, at least someone who has authority within the administration."

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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