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SAIPAN, CNMI (Saipan Tribune, May 16) – Commonwealth of the
Norther Marianas Speaker Heinz S. Hofschneider said that while Puerto Ricans are
celebrating the end of 60 years of U.S. Navy use of the island of Vieques, the
Northern Marianas remains open to the possibility of the military conducting
exercises here.

Hofschneider noted that over the years, both the U.S. military
and the Commonwealth have retained and honored commitments to each other despite
occasional misunderstanding and controversies.

He cited the Covenant provision allowing the use of Farallon de
Mendinilla, the Tinian military retention leaseback area, and pending requests
to conduct limited military exercises on the islands of Anatahan and Pagan as
examples of past and present arrangements between the two parties.

The Speaker acknowledged that controversies previously developed
over the environmental impact of bombing exercises on Farallon de Mendinilla,
but noted that consultations over the years satisfactorily resolved those

"When we consult with each other in a mutually respectful
way, we can solve problems that might arise from military use of Commonwealth
lands," Hofschneider said, noting that he is pleased to learn that Saipan
has become a popular port for rest and recreation by Navy personnel.

May 16, 2003

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