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By Bernadette H. Carreon

KOROR (Palau Horizon, June 11) — Palau and Australia started their annual Maritime Surveillance cooperation talks yesterday and thanked the Australian government for its continued support for Palau’s Patrol boat program.

Vice President Elias Camsek Chin led the Palau Delegation while Australian Ambassador Corinne Tomkinson led the Australian delegation.

Chin during the talks said that Palau needs assistance in patrolling its waters, and Australia has been a great ally and supporter when it comes to maritime security and surveillance.

Tomkinson for her part said that what Palau has done with the Pacific Patrol Boat Program is very laudable and that the support from the Ministry of Justice has even made it more successful.

. She also thanked Palau for hosting last year’s Maritime EEZ Surveillance and Security Conference. She commended Palau’s efforts to work with the Federated States of Micronesia on various Patrol Boat operations and exercises.

She stressed that out of the 12 countries that Australia supports with the Pacific Patrol Boat Program, Palau has done exceptionally well in terms of days spend at sea, MEDIVACs, Search and Rescue missions, and overall surveillance of Palau’s waters.

The discussion also delved on last year’s talks and went over the status of various requests that had been made. Out of the 19 requests made last year, 10 have been completed and two are in progress.

Some of the completed requests were issues on outboard engines, desktop computers, and funding to improve the operations room.

Following the 2006 requests review, the delegations then discussed the 28 requests for 2007. Some of these requests include repairs to the PSS Remeliik, marine radios, and various sea boat improvements. The Australian delegation said that if their budget allows it , they will fund many of the projects, but only those that are of high priority.

Attending the talks are Bureau of Public Safety Director Hazime Telei, Chief of Marine Law Enforcement Ellender Ngirameketii, and PSS Remeliik Patrol Boat Commanding Officer Albert Yangowemau. Legal Counsel Jim Taylor, Executive Assistant Jennifer Anson and Mr. Harry Besebes also attended on behalf of Palau. Ambassador Corinne Tomkinson led the Australian delegation, along with Mr. Tom Ciesniewski (Assistant Director—International Policy Division of the Department of Defence), Colonel Chris Burns (Australian Defence Attaché to the Republic of Palau), Captain Vic Jones (Incoming Defence Attaché), Ms. Nha-Linh Thai (Policy Officer—International Policy Division DOD), and Lt. Commander Dave Hannah and Chief Petty Officer Michael Grant, both working as Maritime Surveillance Advisors in Palau.

Following the discussion of the 2007 items, Chief Ellender Ngirameketii and Mr. Tom Ciesniewski talked about options for future trainings.

Chin said that the trainings provided so far have been very beneficial to Palau and the Bureau of Public Safety.

Following the talks, Chin hosted a dinner at the Landmark Marina.

Today the Australian delegation will be visiting with US Chargé D’Affaires Mark Bezner, Chief of Staff to the President Billy Kuartei, and Minister of State Temmy Shmull.

Australia will be hosting a final dinner tonight at the Palau Pacific Resort, where the minutes of the MSC Talks will be signed.

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