GUAM READIES FOR ARRIVAL OF U.S.VICE PRESIDENT CHENEY

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By Mar-Vic Cagurangan

SAIPAN, CNMI (Mariana Variety, Feb. 20) - Amid tight security, Andersen Air Force Base on Guam is gearing up for U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney’s brief visit tomorrow, which is part of a tour that will take him to Australia and Japan for talks on Asian security and the global war on terrorism.

Cheney is expected to arrive at Andersen in the early afternoon but his itinerary is not being released. Sources said an advanced party arrived on island Friday to prepare for the vice president’s visit.

Andersen’s public information office said the media coverage of the visit will be pooled among selected media outlets--mostly the national media crews that are on the plane with the vice president--as part of the security arrangements. A public information official said, "The situation will require a bit of patience," and that the "Secret Service situation will be rather unpredictable."

Congresswoman Madeleine Z. Bordallo earlier urged Cheney to include talks with Guam leaders in his itinerary, "however brief the visit may be." It’s not clear as of press time if Cheney will be meeting with any local officials.

Captain Joel Stark, public information officer for Andersen, said Cheney’s visit will be very brief – "only a couple of hours." Citing information from the vice president’s office, the Australia media reported that Cheney will be visiting U.S. armed force personnel on Guam and tour the military facilities on island.

Cheney is also set to meet with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to discuss the realignment of the U.S. military in the region, including the relocation of 8,000 Marines to Guam.

Guam activists led by I Nasion Chamoru will greet the vice president with a rally in front of the main gate of Andersen "to call Cheney’s attention" to a number of local issues that have always been relegated to the sidelines.

"This could prove to be an opportunity to obtain attention from the international media," said Debbie Quinata of I Nasion Chamoru.

She said the group will raise the issues of contamination and radiations, war reparations and the militarization of the island, "and declare to him our desire for peace and how much we abhor war."

Governor Felix P. Camacho, meanwhile, eagerly awaits Cheney’s arrival, saying that the visit of a top U.S. official to Guam "shows that we have the attention of those in a position to help us."

"All of them are bringing the same message -- Guam’s future is important to our nation’s interests. We are partners at the table. And as such we are seizing the opportunity to protect the interests of our people, provide an upgraded infrastructure and ensure that this buildup is mutually beneficial to civilian and military communities," the governor said in his State of the Island Address before the 29th Guam Legislature Monday.

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