U.S. OFFICIAL CALLS PALAU BEST RUN IN PACIFIC

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McGann was in Palau for compact consultations

By Bernadette H. Carreon

KOROR (Palau Horizon, March 19, 2008) — The Director of the of the United States Office for Australia, New Zealand, and Pacific Islands Affairs said that – excluding Palau is the best-run country in the Pacific.

C. Steven McGann heads the US group for consultations regarding the upcoming review of the Compact of Free Association in 2009.

The two-day consultation from March 10 to 11 conducted here, McGann said was productive with the US and Palau reaffirming their strong friendship and acknowledge the endurance of the bilateral relationship and on-going success of the Compact.

McGann added that the initial discussions would help set the agenda and work plan for the review.

McGann said the consultation is on "how the US best meets its obligations under the Compact."

He added that the US does not see the Compact negotiations in the context of more money for Palau but rather how the US can contribute on areas to strengthen Palau’s ongoing development plans.

McGann added the US also expects the General Accountability Office (GAO) report on Palau’s management of Compact funds as positive.

"We do not anticipate that it is negative, it does not necessarily give us something to be concerned about," he added.

Six government officials were here for the consultation.

President Remengesau led Palau representative with Compact negotiator Billy G. Kuartei.

McGann’s team composed of Mary Comfort, Attorney –Adviser for East and South Asian and Pacific Islands Affairs, Department of State; Melinda Lucke, Desk Officer for Australia, New Zealand and Pacific Islands Affairs, Department of State; Jessica Powers, Country Director for South and Southeast Asia, Asian and Pacific Security Affairs, Office of the Secretary of Defense, Department of Defense and Tom Bussanich, Director of Budget Management and Grants Division, Office of the Insular Affairs, Department of the Interior and Lt. Colonel Jennifer Hughes, Pacific Islands Affairs Desk Officer.

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