Claims Of Unequal Treatment In U.S. Compact Aid Negotiations With FSM And Marshalls

by Sean Dorney

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia): April 29, 2002 - The U.S. State Department has defended the country against claims it is offering the Federated States of Micronesia a better deal than the Marshall Islands in the latest round of Compact of Free Association aid negotiations.

As Radio Australia correspondent Sean Dorney reports, the new agreements with both former U.S. Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands jurisdictions in the northern Pacific Ocean are to last for twenty years -- from 2003 to 2023.

"The Marshall Islands has questioned why on its calculations the neighboring Federated States of Micronesia will receive up to 30 percent more per head than the Marshalls over the life of the new Compact agreements.

"In statements posted on the Internet[], the U.S. State Department's Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs claims the calculation is misleading. It says that the per capita assistance being offered to the Marshalls and the FSM is almost identical at about US $780 a year if the military's contribution to the Marshalls for the use of Kwajalein Atoll missile testing range is included.

"It argues that since it is U.S. provided assistance it should be included in the total.

"However, it also argues that the FSM's population is scattered over a larger area served by four state governments and so simple comparisons per head aren't valid."