Palau President Lobbies Washington For Passage Of Compact

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Signed several years ago, Compact languishing in Congress

By Giff Johnson

MAJURO, Marshall Islands (Marianas Variety, May 10, 2013) – Palau President Tommy Remengesau Jr. is meeting with federal officials this week in Washington, D.C. to push for passage of the U.S.-Palau Compact of Free Association.

Remengesau, who visited Majuro before departing for the United States, said the priority of his administration "is to work with the U.S. Congress to see that it gets passed."

The Compact was approved several years ago by U.S. State Department and Palauan negotiators, but it has languished in Congress because of ongoing U.S. deficit issues.

"The Compact has been a great success for Palau, and for a relationship between a big and powerful country with a small island developing nation," he said.

Remengesau said the lack of action in the U.S. Congress on the Compact is not because the U.S. government has lost faith in the Compact. "It’s a question of financing," he said.

"While we do recognize the unusual challenges now being faced by the United States and its foreign affairs issues with North Korea and in the Middle East, we’re hoping that (the Compact approval process) is a chance for the U.S. to focus on their relationship with strong friends," Remengesau said.

He said he expects to meet with congressional leaders and staff this week. "There are a lot of new players (in Congress)," he said. "We need to start over again and make people aware of the relationship."

A key issue for moving the Compact forward is for Congress to "offset" the price tag of Compact aid with budget reductions in other areas.

"One reason I want to go to Washington is to work with Congress so they can tell us how the off-setting requirement will be met," he added.

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