INTERIOR’S COHEN COMPLETES FIRST VISITS TO U.S. PACIFIC TERRITORIES AND FREELY ASSOCIATED STATES

admin's picture

INTERIOR’S COHEN COMPLETES FIRST VISITS TO U.S. PACIFIC TERRITORIES AND FREELY ASSOCIATED STATES

By Al Hulsen

HONOLULU, Hawai‘i (September 3, 2002 – Pacific Islands Report)---David Cohen, the new U.S. Department of the Interior’s Assistant Secretary for Insular Affairs, has only been in office for about two months.

But already he has made three separate trips to the Pacific, to pursue a variety of projects involving the major U.S. territories in the region (American Samoa, Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands) and the Freely Associated States (Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia and Palau), which now are independent nations but following World War II were part of the U.S.-administered Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands.

"I thought it was import to get out as soon as possible to meet the people that I have to deal with," Cohen said.

He also made a stopover in Hawai‘i last week, to visit the East-West Center and join officials concluding negotiations over an expected renewal of expiring 15-year Compact of Free Association aid provisions between the U.S. and both the FSM and the Marshalls.

Regarding the U.S. territories, the Washington official of part-Samoan ancestry said, "I think what’s needed is a coherent vision of what we are trying to achieve with the assistance we provide, be it financial or technical."

Cohen’s key goal is to promote greater economic self-sufficiency within each of the Pacific jurisdictions.

"We really want to promote the strengths of the different areas," he said, "so they can stand on their own two feet, be the masters of their own destinies within the American family and be partners rather than dependents.

"I understand that this is not a short-term goal," the assistant secretary said.

The Freely Associated States and the territories are different, he emphasized, "but if we don’t have a coherent vision of what we’re trying to achieve . . . we’re just going to be in a state of drift . . . when it comes to how we use our funds.

"You have to have a strategic plan in order to be effective," Cohen stressed.

And now, following on-site visits and in-depth discussions with island officials, that’s exactly what he plans to create upon his return to Washington.

Rate this article: 
No votes yet

Add new comment