Freely Associated States Conclude Summit In Palau

by Bernadette H. Carreon

KOROR, Palau (Marianas Variety): August 5, 2002 - The top leaders of the Freely Associated States - the Marshalls, the Federated States of Micronesia and Palau - have concluded their second summit here.

Marshall Islands President Kessai Note, FSM President Leo Falcam and their delegations arrived Wednesday night to join Palau President Tommy Remengesau for the four-day summit.

A nine-page communiqué released by the three presidents after the meeting addressed many national and regional issues affecting the area, from communications to marine surveillance and extradition treaties and to climate change and economic matters.

Remengesau briefed his two guests about Palau's efforts to gain benefits under the universal services with the U.S. Federal Communications Corp., including membership in the National Carriers Association. The two visiting presidents expressed support for Palau's efforts.

The presidents of the Marshalls and the FSM vowed to include Palau in their future discussions regarding telecommunications.

Palau said a tentative proposal to initiate a fiber optic system from Guam to Yap and Palau was currently being reviewed.

Remengesau also discussed the issue on cooperative efforts through legislation or treaties to facilitate extradition among the three nations.

recently passed legislation that would simplify the process of extradition among the three nations.

Marine surveillance programs of each nation were also on the agenda.

The three leaders recognized and reiterated their commitment to update and standardize quarantine regulations and to enhance the free movement of products in the FAS.

Palau said it is taking a step toward this goal through the hiring of a consultant using the bio-safety enabling grant.

Through this grant, the consultant will coordinate review of current quarantine laws and regulations and will make recommendations for revision and implementation.

Palau also offered to incorporate a standardization component to the research effort in cooperation with the FSM and the Marshalls.

three presidents agreed to continue to work together in order to harmonize immigration provisions in each of the three countries and ease entry and departure procedures.

The joint effort would begin through the development of a consolidated immigration/ customs and quarantine form.

On anti-terrorism, the presidents agreed to coordinate efforts to enhance security in each country and to join forces to lobby the United States to provide additional assistance in complying with the new regulations of the Federal Aviation Administration and other federal agencies and to provide necessary technical assistance and equipment to achieve compliance.

nation is also presently reviewing its own counter-terrorism legislation.

The three nations agreed that the funding of the Prior Service Benefit program is a high priority.

The three leaders said that while the U.S. Congress appropriated $700,000 for fiscal year 2001, the amount fell short of the actuarial estimate of $23 million needed to meet the requirements of the fund over the next four years.