US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and Pacific Affairs Kurt M. Campbell visits FSM
Palikir, Pohnpei (FSM Information Services): July 5, 2011 - On July 1, 2011 President Manny Mori received Assistant Secretary of State Kurt M. Campbell and his visiting delegation at the President's Conference Room for a brief but very high level meeting. Accompanying the Assistant Secretary were Admiral Patrick M. Walsh, Commander of U.S. Pacific Fleet, Nisha Desai Biswal, USAID Assistant Administrator, Brigadier General Richard L. Simcock II, Principal Director, Office of the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense (Asia & Pacific), Ambassador Peter M. Prahar, U.S. Ambassador to the FSM, and other officials and U.S. Embassy staff.
President Mori welcomed Assistant Secretary Campbell and his delegation to the FSM and thanked them for taking such an extensive trip to meet with leaders of the FSM. In his remarks, the President reaffirmed the special nature of the FSM-US longstanding profound relationship and outlined some key areas of success and challenges. The Compact of Free Association is pointed out as one product of the relationship which affords "our people the opportunity to work, go to school, and even die in the U.S.", the President explained. Compact implementation, especially in the infrastructure sector, has been difficult due to stringent requirements, but "we are making progress in building the needed infrastructure under the Compact", the President added.
The President also alluded to issues raised by members of the U.S. Congress in a letter to Secretary Clinton and Secretary Salazar and assured the delegation that a Task Force under the chairmanship of Vice President Alik has been organized to recommend ways on how the FSM can minimize impacts of migration of FSM citizens into the U.S. and its territories.
Furthermore, the President made mention of the 2011 Trafficking in Persons report by the US Department of State which ranks the FSM on a tier-three status. He emphasized that his Administration will continue to work with FSM Congress to ensure that the pending Palermo Protocol is acceded to and that other legislations and policies be developed for consideration of Congress.
In his remarks, Assistant Secretary Campbell thanked the President for the warm reception. The Secretary stressed that the U.S. is thankful to the FSM for a number of reasons, most notably the "deeply appreciated" services and sacrifices made by men and women from the FSM in the U.S. military and FSM's support of US' position on issues at the United Nations and other forums.
Secretary Campbell agreed with the President's statement that "some progress are made" under Compact infrastructure sector as evidenced by various constructions for schools, road, and health care facilities. He stated that both governments may still be able to devise improved approaches in implementing the compact so that "fundamental responsibilities in both directions" are achieved.
Secretary Campbell acknowledged that the US could still improve its oversight responsibility over Compact implementation and emphasized the need for an inter-agency approach where the Department of Defense, the Department of State, the Department of Interior and other Federal Agencies jointly provide oversight and monitoring over compact implementation to maximize progress.
Secretary Campbell explained that this trip "is the beginning of a new process we (U.S.) will undertake" more regularly in the Pacific to have a more comprehensive and coordinated approach to this region in defense, diplomacy, and economic and social development.
In response to the President's comments on issues of Human Trafficking, Secretary Campbell advised that the matter be considered a "national emergency" due to the potential impact it can have on the core values of US-FSM relations. Mr. Campbell explained that to be assessed a low rating on Human Trafficking can potentially result in certain sanctions that may challenge our bilateral relations and other aspects of the Compact, especially immigration.
USAID Assistant Administrator for Asia Nisha Desai Biswal spoke of areas of interventions that can assist the FSM especially in disaster preparedness and response and integrating climate change proofing into Compact infrastructure projects.
General Simcock II expressed similar sentiments, saying that "the greatest threat to this region" is Mother Nature itself. Dealing with climate change and surveillance and monitoring of the expansive Exclusive Economic Zone are areas where the US could look to engage in to bolster "comprehensive assistance" to the FSM.
The meeting was concluded with exchange of mutual appreciation and support along with the presentations of gifts by both parties.
In attendance with the President were Vice President Alik and some members of the Cabinet.
For more information, please contact the Department of Foreign Affairs at 320-2641/3613.
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