The RMI Makes Progress in Washington, D.C.

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EMBASSY OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE MARSHALL ISLANDS 2433 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W. Washington, D.C.  20008-2805 Tel. # (202) 234-5414 Fax # (202) 232-3236


NEWS RELEASE June 25, 2002

The Hon. Gerald M. Zackios, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Chief Compact Negotiator for the Government of the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI), pursued a full agenda while in Washington, D.C. last week to further progress on Compact negotiations. As a result of Minister Zackios’s well-timed visit, the RMI Government took concrete steps forward both at the negotiations table and in Congress where Members will consider and approve a final package.

Minister Zackios initialed four subsidiary agreements on June 19, 2002 that will be a part of the renegotiated Title II provisions of the Compact. The four agreements include: U.S. Postal Services; Civil Aviation Economic Services and Related Programs; Establishment of the Civic and Humanitarian Assistance Program (CHAPs); and Civil Aviation Safety Services and Related Programs.

The event marked the culmination of two weeks of technical talks between the RMI and the U.S. that involved members of the RMI Compact Negotiation Team, led by Executive Director Robert Muller, Legal Advisor Greg Danz, Economic Advisor Tony Costanzo and key staff from the RMI Embassy in D.C.

The initialed agreements demonstrate the RMI’s commitment to concluding a successful agreement with the U.S. Administration on the expiring provisions of the Compact.

Minister Zackios also concluded a successful round of meetings with Congressional representatives and staff that focused attention on the status of Compact negotiations. Meetings with The Hon. Robert A. Underwood from Guam and The Hon. Patsy T. Mink from Hawai‘i underscored the long-standing friendship and support of the RMI’s neighbors in the Pacific.

As a member of the House Resources Committee with oversight responsibilities for the Compact, Congressman Underwood offered during his meeting with Minister Zackios to host a staff briefing to educate the Committee on Compact-related issues.

Minister Zackios also received a warm welcome from Congresswoman Mink, who came off the House floor to reaffirm her support for Marshallese residing in the RMI and in the United States.

In addition, Minister Zackios met with key staff working on and with the Committees with jurisdiction for Compact issues in the Senate and the House. These committees include the Senate Energy and Appropriations committees, and the House Resources and International Relations committees. Ambassador Banny deBrum and First Secretary Kristina Stege accompanied Minister Zackios on his round of meetings.

By increasing awareness on Compact renegotiations, Minister Zackios has set the stage for the July 17,2002 hearing scheduled by the House Resources Committee to provide Congressional oversight on the renegotiations process.

Minister Zackios also took advantage of the time in Washington, D.C. to meet with members of the Kwajalein Negotiation Commission (KNC) and Johnston and Associates, the firm representing KNC interests in D.C. At the meetings, the RMI Government reiterated its willingness to cooperate with the KNC on issues of mutual interest to the RMI and the landowners of Kwajalein.

Joining President Kessai H. Note in a meeting with former U.S. Attorney General Dick Thornburgh over the weekend, Minister Zackios also focused his attention on the need for an impartial assessment of operations of the Nuclear Claims Tribunal, and the adequacy of the remedies provided through the Tribunal to victims of the U.S. nuclear testing program.

President Note was in Washington D.C. during a brief weekend layover en route back home from Rome for the Food and Agricultural Organization’s annual meeting.

The week concluded with a well-attended reception at the RMI Embassy that included U.S. Administration representatives and Congressional staff. In his remarks at the reception, Minister Zackios recognized the unique strategic partnership that has flourished under the Compact of Free Association during the last fifteen years. Looking ahead, he stated:

"We look forward to strengthening and extending our partnership as we move into the next stage of the Compact. Members of the RMI Compact Negotiation Team have been in town the last few weeks, working hard with Mr. Al Short and the U.S. team on Compact renegotiations. We are pleased to be making progress. As in any negotiation, there are some issues that still need to be ironed out, but rest assured we are committed to the process, and to getting a package to Congress for its consideration."

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