PALAU HOPEFUL OF COMPACT TALKS THIS MONTH

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By Bernadette H. Carreon

KOROR (Palau Horizon, Jan. 4) — Palau President Tommy Remengesau said he is hopeful that review of the Compact of Free Association with the United States will begin January 2008.

Remengesau told reporters that Palau’s Ambassador to the United States Hersey Kyota is working on facilitating the talks early in 2008.

He said that the Palau government is anticipating that the review will begin as early as January.

He said this way, outcome of the renegotiation can be presented to the electorate simultaneous with the general elections in November 2008.

"We do not expect the talks to be sophisticated or adversarial. We are looking at two friends coming into the table," the president said.

He said an early review will also keep the momentum going and not take steps back into the Compact agreement.

The president said that U. S. lawmakers have been very receptive about the early review.

The president said that Palau has made a great progress over the last 13 years with its Compact agreement.

He said that Palau’s main objective is to become a donor nation rather than a recipient country.

The financial package of the Compact will lapse on 2009, the review process is now being conducted by Palau.

Earlier, the president also announced the appointment of Presidential Chief of Staff Billy Kuartei as the lone chief negotiator for the Compact renegotiation.

The president added that Kuartei does not have political plans next year allowing him to focus efforts on the renegotiation.

Earlier, Remengesau said that the Compact renegotiation will not be politically tainted to make sure that the chief negotiator or spokesman will serve the interest of the Republic.

Inputs provided by the advisors will then be relayed by the president to the negotiator.

Congress earmarked $800,000 as funding for the negotiation.

Only certain provisions of the Compact will be negotiated , the rest are still lock in the original Compact, the president said.

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