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Secretary Clinton praises close relationship with Palau

By Bernadette H. Carreon

KOROR (Palau Horizon, Mar 18, 2009) – Compact of Free Association funding will extend to another year, according to the meeting between President Johnson Toribiong and United States Secretary Hilary Clinton.

Ngirai Tmetuchl, Toribiong’s Special Assistant in an interview said that the status quo remains for 2010 and within that period the Compact review will commence.

Tmetuchl said although there is no amount given for the Compact funding, the amount will be at the same level allocated in 2008.

The financial provision of the Compact between Palau and U.S. is scheduled to expire on September 30, 2009.

Toribiong met with Clinton in Washington D.C. last March 12. The meeting occurred to begin preparations for the Compact review.

According to a press statement from the President’s Office, Secretary Clinton cited close and special relationship between Palau and the U.S.

Secretary Clinton, at the same thanked President Toribiong for his decision to recognize the new country of Kosovo; for Palau’s staunch support of US policies at the United Nations; and for the loyalty and sacrifice of many young Palauans who have served in the US military.

Toribiong for his part, thanked the Secretary for the meeting, and asked her to take a personal role in the very critical, upcoming Compact Review.

The press statement added that although Palau had made "enormous economic progress, it had not yet achieved economic self-sufficiency."

He added that the prior U.S. administration has not been prepared to enter into a substantive Review, leaving Palau to face an October 1, 2009 deadline for the end of critical federal programs.

President Toribiong in that meeting, explained to Clinton that it is in the interest of both the U.S. and Palau to extend the economic terms of Compact for one more year, giving both parties ample time to carefully review the Compact, and forge an agreement which will endure into the future.

Toribiong cited the extensions of the economic assistance given by the U.S. to Marshall and FSM at the end of their 15-year terms.

The Palau president requested that the same extension be given to this island nation.

The press statement added that Secretary Clinton told Toribiong that she understood Palau’s situation, and would soon address it.

She knew that the strong and cordial relationship between the two countries would provide a clear path to a serious and successful Compact Review.

President Toribiong was accompanied to the meeting by Minister of State Sandra Sumang Pierantozzi, Senator Regina Mesebeluu, Ambassador to the United States Hersey Kyota, and Ambassador to the United Nations Stuart Beck. President Toribiong mentioned he has appointed three women to his cabinet, and Secretary Clinton responded by saying she thought that was a very wise judgment on his part.

President Toribiong requested that the Secretary consider elevating the status of the United States’ representative to Palau from Charge D’Affaires to Ambassadorial rank, and the Secretary indicated that she would consider the request.

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