Palau to consider different course if no compact agreement

 

17 July 2012

Serial No. 2012-057

Dear Madame Ambassador Reed-Rowe:

I write in my capacity as the Chairman of President Toribiong’s Compact Review Advisory Group (“CRAG”). The CRAGhas asked me to contact you to lodge its strong complaint and disappointment at the decided lack of progress on the ratification of the Compact Review Agreement. 

President Toribiong signed the Compact Review Agreement September 3, 2010, after the most senior United States officials urged that he do so to enable it to be approved by the last Congress of the United States. We were then surprised that it was not submitted until this Congress for approval, which resulted in it being subjected to new requirements in the U.S. House of Representatives for cost offsets.

For more than a year now, congressional committee leaders of both United States political parties and of both houses of the Congress have advised United States Executive branch officials of their support for the Agreement. But they have also advised that the cost offsets the United States Executive branch has

suggested are not viable for offsetting the cost of the Agreement. They have asked for alternatives or for talks to develop mutually acceptable alternatives. It is clear from their numerous letters that they have had no positive response from the United States Executive branch. We are now deeply disappointed to learn

that United States Executive branch officials are objecting to the cost offsets proposed by 16 members of the House, without offering any viable alternatives or engaging in discussions for alternatives.

The people of Palau need to know more than 22 months after the Agreement was signed and nearly two years into the intended term of the Agreement-whether the United States Executive branch is going to make a serious effort to have the Agreement approved by the United States Congress. Some important members of our community have suggested that Palau’s needs may be more reliably met if Palau becomes more independent of the United States and provides China and the Arab states with what they want. The present administration of Palau does not favor this course. But the delay in obtaining ratification of the

Agreement has caused the delay itself to become an election year political issue in Palau, thus endangering the Agreement. It is becoming increasingly hard for President Toribiong to justify continuing to wait for United States approval when the United States Executive branch appears to have done little more than object to congressional initiatives to enable approval. What offsets are used for the cost of the Agreement are the internal business of the United States. Our only interest is that what is needed for approval of the Agreement be done.

We do not doubt the sincerity of the United States Executive branch in favoring the Agreement that it requested be signed. We know that Executive branch officials have conveyed their strong support of the Agreement when congressional officials inquire. But this does not constitute a serious effort to obtain approval. Having spent so much time and money and having worked so hard to conclude an Agreement with the United States, the CRAG is concerned that the lack of a concerted and serious effort by the U.S. Executive branch may result in undoing all of the progress that we thought had been achieved. This is not an acceptable state of affairs.

We need to be advised whether the United States Executive branch will begin to seriously work with the United States Congress to obtain approval or whether we should chart a different course.

Sincerely yours,

 

/s/ Joshua Koshiba

Palau Ambassador & Chief Representative For Compact 432 Review

 

Cc: President Johnson Toribiong

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