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By Nazario Rodriguez Jr.

KOROR, Palau (Palau Horizon, April 18) – High Chief Andrew Rupeong says Yap is recovering from the devastation brought by a typhoon that hit the state two years ago.

[PIR editor’s note: Yap is one of four states that make up the Federated States of Micronesia. It is located south of Guam and to the northeast of Palau. Typhoon Sudal hit Yap on April 9, 2004, after which more than US$1.4 million in disaster aid was approved for the islands’ recovery by the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency.]

Rupeong, the highest of the three paramount chiefs in Yap, has recently visited Palau along with his family members.

"We’re here to attend a funeral of a close relative," said Rupeong during a dinner party hosted by attorney Johnson Toribiong at the Velasco Pub last week.

Among those who attended the party were former Koror Governor John C. Gibbons and Minister of State Temmy Schmull.

Yap is one of the four states of the Federated States of Micronesia and is the closest neighboring island of Palau. The other federated states are Chuuk, Kosrae and Pohnpei.

"(Toribiong) is my family here," said Rupeong.

In an interview, he talked about the economic development plans that Yap is considering.

One such plan involves an ongoing exploratory talks with a software consultancy firm.

The firm, Rupeong said, wants to build an Internet satellite system in Yap that will connect major sites in the Micronesian region – Palau, Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

Yap has a population of over 12,000 of which 80 percent are working with the government.

"We want to promote Yap as a major tourism destination like Palau," Rupeong said.

Yap is a major exporter of betel nut, the main source of its income.

"We are very frugal. We have no problems at all. Everyone is welcome to visit," Rupeong said.

April 19, 2006

Marianas Variety: www.mvariety.com

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