Koror- As part of the United States “ economic commitment to peace and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region,” Palau’s Vice President Raynold Oilouch said that Washington is eager for an early start to the compact talks with each of the three Micronesia’s freely associated states (FAS).
Oilouch said this announcement was made by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in his meetings with the leaders of Palau, FSM, and the Marshall Islands, in Pohnpei on August 5.
“The big announcement is that we won’t be waiting to conclude the negotiations by 2024. He wants to conclude the negotiations early between Palau and the United States as well as the other FAS states,” Vice President Oilouch said at a press conference Wednesday.
“In fact, the US president would like to see negotiations conclude by the end of 2020 and the sooner the better,” said Vice President Oilouch.
The current Compact Review Agreement, which provided Palau with a total of $228 million direct economic assistance will expire in 2024.
Compact allows the United States to operate armed forces in the FAS nations and to demand land for operating bases (subject to negotiation). The U.S. in turn becomes responsible for protecting its affiliate countries.
The U.S.-Palau relationship under the Compact continues in perpetuity until mutually terminated. The economic provision of the Compact is the one that is renegotiated and renewed every 15 years.
The upcoming compact negotiations will be to “review our compact agreement, but most especially, the discussions will be about an extension of the economic assistance package, building from the similar 2010 compact review agreement,” Oilouch said,
Palau, FSM, RMI has agreed to a joint negotiating team in the upcoming compact review discussions with the United States.
In his statement at the Pohnpei meeting, Secretary Pompeo said that the United States wants to help nations of the Indo-Pacific continue their decades-long rise and maintain their sovereignty, both in the political and economic spheres.
“And so today, I am here to reaffirm the United States will help you protect your sovereignty, your security, your right to live in freedom and peace. Just as we did during World War II, we will oppose any larger nation’s attempt to turn the Pacific Islands into footholds for regional dominance,” Pompeo said.
The Indo-Pacific strategy is seen as a move to counter China's growing influence in the Pacific.
"Today, I’m pleased to announce that the United States has begun negotiations on extending our respective compacts of free association with each country. These compacts help sustain the important strategic partnerships that the Freely Associated States have had with the United States since World War II. They sustain important economic assistance for the people of these countries.”