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By Bernadette H. Carreon For Variety

KOROR, Palau (September 3, 2002 - Palau Horizon/Marianas Variety)---Compared to other two Freely Associated States -- the Federated States of Micronesia and the Republic of the Marshall Islands -- Deputy Assistant Secretary for Insular Affairs David Cohen said Palau’s progress in terms of infrastructure development is impressive.

Cohen was in the country Aug. 24 to 27 for a familiarization tour. It was his first visit to Palau.

Cohen inspected the Compact Road project and was briefed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on its progress. He was told that construction was about 37 percent done.

Cohen also visited Angaur and Peleliu.

Soil assessment was made in those areas last year under provisions in Palau’s Compact of Free Association with the U.S.

A study was undertaken to determine the feasibility of rehabilitating topsoil fertility.

According to the study, the soils of Peleliu and Angaur are inherently low in fertility, with high alkalinity and low nutrients.

The study also showed that limestone soil has a low capacity to hold nutrients and with the high level of rain, many of the necessary nutrients for agriculture production are leached out.

Cohen said since the other Freely Associated States’ Compacts are up for re-negotiation, the visit to Palau will be helpful when its turn for Compact discussions come.

Cohen also visited the national capitol project in Melekeok and the country’s latest attraction, Dolphin Park.

The Department of the Interior coordinates federal policy in the territories of American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and the U.S. Virgin Islands. It oversees federal programs and funds in the Freely Associated States of the Federated States of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands and Palau.

For additional reports from the Marianas Variety, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/ Marianas Variety.

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