18 Mar 2010

US embassy raises concerns over Marshalls hotel sale plans

2:52 pm on 18 March 2010

The United States Embassy in the Marshall Islands has weighed in on a proposal that could see people granted residency in the Marshalls if they buy an apartment there.

Court action over the proposed sale of the government-owned Marshall Islands Resort has revealed the potential buyer plans to convert the resort into apartments and offer a residency permit with each unit sold.

The deputy chief of mission at the US embassy in Majuro, Eric Watnik, says this prospect has prompted the embassy to hold talks with the Marshall Islands government over the resort sale.

"Our interest is limited to the possibility that they might create a category of residency that might qualify people who would live there as residents of the Marshall Islands, allowing them to have rights and privileges under the compact of free association."

Eric Watnik says the Compact of Free Association allows Marshallese people to live, work and study in the United States.