US listens to RMI

United States government officials from Washington, DC who visited recently on a “listening tour” with US Ambassador Karen Stewart. From left: Ernesto Uribe, Meghan Kleinstiber, Stewart and Suzanne Lawrence. Photo: Hilary Hosia.

The Marshall Islands government recently received a delegation comprised of officials from the US Departments of State, Interior and Defense as part of a “listening tour” to the Freely Associated States.

Heading the US delegation was Suzanne Lawrence who is Director for the Office of Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands under the Bureau of East Asia and Pacific Affairs for the Department of State.

The motive for the visit was to hear Marshall Islands’ priorities and needs related to the post-2023 period for the Compact of Free Association, including views on what has worked well and what could be improved, as the United States and the RMI prepare for future discussions.

During the three-day visit, the US delegation met with the RMI Compact Negotiating Committee led by Foreign Minister John Silk, who is Chief Compact Negotiator for the RMI. Acting President Jack Ading, who is also a member of the committee, welcomed the delegation and expressed his appreciation to the US for taking the time to listen to RMI’s concerns as both parties prepare for future Compact extension discussions as announced by US Secretary Mike Pompeo in Pohnpei this past July. Following Ading’s remarks, Minister Silk led the discussions by highlighting issues that are of high importance to the government and to the people of the RMI. 

The delegation also met with the general public including various members from the local NGOs, schools, some members of the National Nuclear Commission, and the Mayors Association. A number of topics were brought forward to the delegation by the public including unresolved nuclear issues, health, education, federal programs services including postal services, and economic and development.“This delegation will take back all of this information as part of our planning and our thinking process for how we go forward with the Compact discussions,” said US Ambassador Karen Stewart.

Read more about this in the November 15, 2019 edition of the Marshall Islands Journal.