Government of the Federated States of Micronesia

US delegation leaves Pohnpei with "first-hand island experience"

PALIKIR, Pohnpei (FSM Information Service): January 17, 2004 - Congressman Richard Pombo of the United States House of Representative and his Congressional Delegation (CODEL) along with Secretary Gale A. Norton of the US Department of Interior left Pohnpei State with an experience of the island life, "first-hand" during their visit to the seat of the nation.

The welcome for the high-level CODEL was punctuated by the famous heavy rain showers of Pohnpei upon arrival. Mwaramwars and a chorus of songs from the local Head Start - as they waived mini FSM/US flags, continued the display of island-welcome when officials from both State and National Governments greeted the CODEL at the Pohnpei International Airport.

Continued rainfall accompanied their drive to the nation's capitol in Palikir where they met with President Joseph J. Urusemal and Speaker Peter M. Christian of the Congress of the Federated States of Micronesia.

President Urusemal welcomed the delegation to Palikir and explained that rain-shower in local folklores, is a good omen.

The President expressed FSM's appreciation for U.S.'s passage of the amended Compact and thanked, especially, the US Congress for its "swift action" on the amended Compact legislation.

He also noted the recent establishment of DOI's Honolulu Office to monitor financial assistance under the Compact and expressed FSM's willingness and commitment to making the amended Compact work to the benefit of both nations.

Along the same line, Secretary Norton said the signed Compact signals tremendous opportunities for both nations to "further strengthen our relationship" and that she is "looking forward to working with the FSM, to go forward with the Compact of Free Association, to go forward with the future."

Secretary Norton expressed the US's sincere appreciation for the numerous FSM citizens serving alongside their own in the stance against global terrorism. She referenced FSM's own Specialist Hilario Bermanis-III, and expressed the U.S. Administration's deep appreciation for his sacrifice in the combat for world freedom.

During the evening's dinner reception at the Cliff Rainbow Hotel, Chairman Pombo echoed Secretary Norton's remarks when he also referenced Specialist Bermanis's sacrifice. He thanked the FSM for their sons and daughters that are serving alongside U.S's own.

Chairman Pombo said their visit to Pohnpei afforded the opportunity for members of his delegation to see and experience first-hand the issues which they have been working on from afar.

Secretary Norton said, "it provided a tremendous opportunity to experience the FSM first-hand."

At a dinner reception co-hosted by President Urusemal and Speaker Christian, the delegation was treated to a cultural show that opened with a local sakau ceremony followed by traditional dances. The following day a boat ride tour to the Nan Madol ruins and a rainy return bid the delegation farewell as they departed for the next stop on their itinerary.

Pombo chairs the House Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. The chairman headed a CODEL that included: Rep. Eni Faleomavaega from American Samoa, Rep. Frank Lucas from Oklahoma, Rep. Jeff Flake from Arizona, Rep. Dennis Rehberg from Montana, Rep. Dennis Cardoza from California, Rep. Madeleine Bordallo of Guam and a several Congressional staff.

Representing the 11th District of California, Chairman Pombo is serving his sixth term in the House. His personal leadership has been noted as "very instrumental and effective" in the passage of the amended Compact legislation.

The CODEL was accompanied by officials from the US Department of Interior which, together with Secretary Norton included, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Interior David Cohen, David Bernhardt, Ramona Jones and several staff.

The Department of Interior was created to oversee the internal development and welfare of the U.S. people. It has administrative responsibility for coordinating federal policy in the territories of American Samoa, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

In 1951, DOI assumed administrative authority for Guam, American Samoa and the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands (TTPI). The Department's responsible for overseeing and administering federal assistance provided to the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau.

The Office of Insular Affairs, under the directions of the DOI, executes these responsibilities.


For further information on this release, please contact:

FSM Office of the President
Public Information: Press, Radio, Video
P.O Box 34
Palikir Station, Pohnpei, FM 96941
Tel.: (691) 320-2548/2092
Fax.: (691) 320-4356
e-mail: fsmpio@mail.fm
http://www.fsmpio.fm/