1 Sep 2020

US stresses commitment to finalise Compact with Palau

1:44 pm on 1 September 2020

The United States is committed to finalising the extension of the economic provision of the Compact of Free Association with Palau this year, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said during his brief visit last week.

US Secretary of Defense, Mark Esper

US Secretary of Defense, Mark Esper Photo: AFP

During the three -hour visit, Esper also reinforced the US vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific region.

"Today we discuss the importance of the United States Compact of Free Association with Palau. The United States is proud to guarantee Palau's defense agreement, which has brought us closer together for decades, economically, strategically and otherwise" Esper said.

Remengesau saw the visit as an opportunity to have further discussions with the US on financial aid, infrastructure development and an enhanced military presence in Palau.

The president said the visit gave Palau a great sense of security and a sense of stability heading into the future.

Negotiations to extend the Compact, which was set to expire in 2024, were ongoing and Esper and Remengesau were both hopeful of a swift conclusion to the talks.

For Palau, the visit was not only historic but an opportunity to get more support from its closest ally to get out of its economic woes as a result of a tourism standstill forced by the Covid-19 pandemic.

"First of all this a truly a historic visit, a very important visit in terms of the value of the relationship we share with the United States of America, Palau as you all know is a close brother, friend and ally of the United States," Remengesau said during a short press briefing before Esper departed.

Remengesau said the visit underlined the value of the friendship they had with the United States and Esper's presence, though short, showed the US commitment to Palau.

The president said the visit was making America's presence in the region more "effective and meaningful"

Remengesau said Palau and the US already had a good foundation and strengthening of the relationship was not only because of China but due to the two nations' long standing relationship under the Compact of Free Association.

"It's about that we put the presence of the United State into a meaningful implementation of the relationship that we have,'' he said.

Remengesau told local reporters the relationship would be manifested through the assurances Palau that the US would continually work with them to address Covid-19.

He said the Secretary of Defense also gave assurances to help Palau access a Covid-19 vaccine once it became available.

Remengesau also said he had received assurances of more infrastructure development and 'military tourism'.

President Tommy Remengesau

President Tommy Remengesau Photo: Office of the President / Wendy Capili-Wilkie