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Says negotiations must start from scratch

By Bernadette H. Carreon

KOROR, Palau (Palau Horizon, May 20,2009) – President Johnson Toribiong said that the former Remengesau administration did extend effort to commence a Compact of Free Association review, it did not however arrived in any meaningful conclusion.

Toribiong was reacting to a statement made by Sen. Tommy Remengesau that the former administration accomplished and contributed progress towards the Compact review.

The president said the former Compact negotiator did submit proposals to the United States but the US part did not respond to Palau’s proposal because of the organization of the new administration.

"The U.S. position was to delay any action until the new administration," Toribiong said in an interview.

"The efforts were there but it never came to any meaningful conclusion," the president said.

Toribiong said that the U.S. Department of Interior has earlier sent former President Remengesau a letter advising him that the commencement of the negotiations be delayed until "there is an opportunity to consult with the new administration’s budget officials."

The president said he credits the former administration for the efforts made but because of the circumstances, "good faith efforts did not make any meaningful results."

The president said that his administration had to start from scratch when it comes to the review.

"Times have changed," he said.

Although there have been proposals that the former Chief negotiator that they will be using, the other proposals will not be useful, he said.

Remengesau in his statement last week said he wants to set the record straight because there have been misinformation on the matter which is another attempt at "political posturing."

He said this is not helping Palau’s negotiation position.

The senator said the Toribiong’s administration have been briefed and provided all documentation and proof of their progress towards the review.

The documentation he said includes recommending four options for continuing to move the Compact review discussions forward that included pursuing the extension of economic assistance for at least one more year.

Toribiong however said that his administration and that of Remengesau are talking about different kinds of extension.

"I want to look forward, not backward. I would like to thank Remengessau for what he did and I am asking for his support," the president said.

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