NEW PALAU PRESIDENT CALLS FOR CLOSER TIES WITH U.S.

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‘Our biggest benefactor is America,’ says Toribiong

By Cherrie Anne E. Villahermosa

KOROR (Palau Horizon, Dec. 8, 2008) - President-elect Johnson Toribiong said that he will emphasize the diplomatic ties of Palau to the United States saying the relationship between two countries should be special because US is Palau’s biggest benefactor and number one defender.

Toribiong during his first press conference on Wednesday said that his administration would give US ties distinction among other allies.

"Let’s not forget that our biggest benefactor is the America, we have special relationships with them. They gave us more $800 million in the last fifteen years, gave us federal programs, give our children opportunity to study and work in the US so lets recognize that efforts and thank them for giving us blessings," the president-elect said.

Toribiong received a congratulatory message from US President George Bush. The message was conveyed through the US Embassy.

Bush in his congratulatory message to Toribiong said that, "We look forward to working with you and your government to maintain a strong relationship and continue to support the development of Palau."

Toribiong said he like President Bush message. Toribiong said he will announce his cabinet after his swearing in ceremony in January.

The President-elect said he will hold a press conference immediately after the swearing in ceremony to announce his final appointees.

Toribiong said he will abolish the Foreign Investment Board and will designate the Ministry of Trade and Commerce to issue license to anyone who wants to invest business in Palau.

"At this time, a bill has been drafted to repeal the FI Board and replace it with a simpler version making the board simply advisors and to give the glory to grant license to the Minister or Trade and Commerce. Lets signify the application process and that advisory board may also engaged in seeking how investors abroad will invest in Palau," he said.

He said he will also emphasize the role of Labor office to focus on screening field workers who are qualified to work in Palau and to find jobs for Palauan, and the Bureau of Taxation to make sure that all taxes are paid.

He said he will appoint a Minister of Justice who has experience in law enforcement.

"I want the Minister of Justice to follow strictly legal advise of the Attorney General or I will make the Office of the Attorney General equal to the Minister of Justice to make sure that the Minister of Justice in Palau is partial, fair and efficient because no one is above the law," he said.

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