U.S. Assistant Secretary of the Interior makes official visit to Palau

U.S. Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Insular and International Affairs Doug Domenech. Picture: DOI

KOROR, 22 JUNE 2018 (MARIANAS VARIETY) – U.S. Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Insular and International Affairs Doug Domenech concluded his first official visit to the Republic of Palau where he conferred with President Tommy Remengesau Jr. on the Compact of Free Association relationship and met with other government and non-government officials.

Accompanying the assistant secretary on his trip to Palau were Office of Insular Affairs Director Nikolao Pula and staff.

“Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and I are pleased that the Department of the Interior, the Department of State and other federal partners are working closely to conclude the Palau Compact review agreement as soon as possible,” said Assistant Secretary Domenech. “The United States will continue to partner with Palau. Our interests are closely tied to a vibrant Palau that has a sustained future,” concluded Domenech.

The U.S. and Palau governments are working to update the funding schedule of the 2010 Palau Compact which required specific annual outlays of funds. Included in the assistance are contributions to the Palau Compact Trust Fund, a capital improvement program, and an infrastructure maintenance plan.The specifics of disbursements must be reaffirmed by the parties prior to implementation of the agreement. As required under U.S. law, before finalising the agreement, the State Department is coordinating closely with Interior and other federal partners to initiate what is referred to as the Circular 175 process for authority to amend and conclude the Palau Compact review agreement.

In addition to delivering a US$323,333 grant in technical assistance to Palau President Remengesau for the Ministry of Finance record-keeping upgrades, Domenech and his team visited the Palau Energy Office and the Palau Bureau of Lands and Survey. They also took a behind-the-scenes tour of the customs and immigration system at the airport and discussed various other projects funded through the Office of Insular Affairs Technical Assistance Programme.

Assistant Secretary Domenech met with Patrick Tellei, president of the Palau Community College and several deans and administrators where he toured the new library and learned about the college’s long history of educating students in Palau and the larger Micronesia region. He met a mechanics class in the Maintenance Assistance Program, additional and capacity building training program at the college also funded through the Department of the Interior.

The assistant secretary toured portions of the Compact Road in Babeldaob, a significant U.S.-funded infrastructure project completed in 2010, which provided access around the island of Babeldaob and opened up opportunities for development in Palau. He visited the Belau National Museum and Bai er a Airai, a traditional Palauan chief’s meeting house in Airai, listed on the Palau National Register of Historic Places and believed to be at least 180 years old.

While on island, Assistant Secretary Domenech joined U.S. Ambassador Amy Hyatt for an Appointment Acceptance Ceremony of Palauan citizen Saxon Shay Isim into the United States Coast Guard Academy, an example of the dedicated service that Palauans give in service to the U.S. armed forces in defense of global prosperity and mutual democratic ideals. The ceremony was attended by Palau’s paramount traditional chiefs, Ibedul Gibbons and Reklai Ngirmang, each of them veterans themselves of the U.S. armed forces. Numerous elected officials were also in attendance with friends and family members.

More Stories