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PRESS RELEASE September 27, 2002


WASHINGTON, D.C.---Concluding more than a month of travels to official events worldwide including the annual South Pacific Forum meeting, the World Summit on Sustainable Development, and the opening of the U.N. General Assembly, H.E. President Leo A. Falcam arrived in Washington on September 19 for a week of meetings with high-level U.S. officials.

The President was accompanied by Mrs. Iris Falcam, First Lady; Ieske Iehsi, Secretary of Foreign Affairs; Senator Peter Christian, Chief Negotiator of the Joint Committee on Compact Economic Negotiations (JCN); Asterio Takesy, Executive Director of JCN; and other members of the Presidential Delegation.  Secretary of Finance, John Ehsa, was also present in Washington for meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank.

Upon arrival in the afternoon of the 19th, the President was greeted by the FSM Ambassador to Washington, Jesse Marehalau, and Embassy staff.  That afternoon the President was briefed by the JCN on matters relating to the ongoing negotiations on expiring provisions of the Compact of Free Association.  At the conclusion of this briefing he departed for a welcoming dinner hosted by the Embassy.

The President then began a busy itinerary that included meetings with key Cabinet officials, Members of Congress, and a full slate of other U.S. Government representatives.

During his meeting with Secretary of State Colin Powell, the President thanked the Secretary for the constructive spirit in which the U.S. negotiators had participated in the ongoing Compact negotiations, and reaffirmed the FSM’s support for important U.S. initiatives in the war on terrorism.  He also thanked the Secretary for the favorable working relationship that had been established with Assistant Secretary James, A. Kelly, with whom the President had met earlier during his visit.  The President stated that he looked forward to a continuation, for the next 20 years, of the unique security and defense relationship between the two countries under the amended Compact.  Upon conclusion of this meeting, the President and Secretary Powell signed a bilateral government-to-government agreement concerning limitations on extradition of U.S. and FSM citizens to the International Criminal Court.

The President met also with Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton.  During this meeting, the President expressed the gratitude of the people of the FSM for a number of actions taken by the Department, including prompt attention to the USS Mississinewa matter, PCB cleanup assistance, and a pledge of technical assistance to enhance the capacity of the FSM Government to implement improved accountability measures, using a phased-in approach, under the amended Compact.  The President also commended Secretary Norton on her choice of David Cohen to head the Office of Insular Affairs, and the elevation of that position to Deputy Assistant Secretary.  The President expressed his pleasure at the selection of a Pacific islander for the post, and was appreciative of Mr. Cohen’s recent visit to most of the FSM states so soon after taking office.

On Capitol Hill, the President met with Senators Daniel Akaka and Ted Stevens, and Representatives Diane Watson, James Hansen, and Nick Rahall.  During his Congressional meetings he updated Members on the status of the Compact talks, and highlighted a number of areas of concern, which remain for the FSM.  He expressed his desire for a prompt conclusion to the talks to facilitate consideration of the Compact by Congress during its current session.  

A number of other meetings were held during the President’s visit, including discussions with members of the National Security Council and staff members of the House Education Committee.  Other events during the visit included attending worship services at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception and reception held in his honor by the Washington Embassy.

The President and his delegation are scheduled to depart for the FSM Capital during the week of September 30.

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