27 Jun 2007

United States rejects claim it is pressuring Kwajalein landowners over missile base deal

3:46 pm on 27 June 2007

The U.S. ambassador to the Marshall Islands is rejecting allegations that the U.S. government is applying pressure to Kwajalein landowners over a land use agreement.

The U.S. leases Kwajalein for its missile test base and has signed a deal with the Marshall Islands government, which negotiates on behalf of the landowners, to pay rent of 15 million U.S. dollars per year.

This has been rejected by the landowners who want 19 million dollars.

Kwajalein senator, Tony deBrum, claims that the U.S. and the Marshall Islands' governments have agreed to pressure the people of Kwajalein into accepting a new land use agreement by depriving them of even the basic necessities of life such as power, water, and sanitation services.

The U.S. ambassador, Clyde Bishop, says this is not true.

"There is no pressure being applied to the landowners to comply but the clarification of the whole issue is that the United States engages in a government to government agreement. We have engaged in that and have signed an agreement with the Republic of the Marshall Islands. At this particular point, if indeed it is an issue, it is an internal domestic issue."

The U.S. ambassador to the Marshall Islands, Clyde Bishop.