by Kassi Berg
In the afternoon of August 4, buy more about 2012, sales a team of high level US officials from Washington, link D.C. arrived in the Republic of Palau after a whirlwind tour this week of Tonga, Kiribati, Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Federated States of Micronesia.
The delegation included Kurt Campbell, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, Pacific Fleet Commander Admiral Cecil Haneya, Jeff Prescott, Special Advisor for Asian Affairs at the White House (Office of the Vice President), and Gloria Steele, USAID Mission Director for the Philippines and the Pacific Islands.
At a press conference held at the Palau Pacific Resort, Campbell stated that the purpose of their “multi-agency” visit was to “demonstrate” the United States’ efforts to “step-up its game in this important region.”
Campbell stated that he “can’t imagine better friends and supporters” than Palau and announced his confidence in the passage of Palau’s Compact of Free Association that has been thus far stuck in the U.S. Congress. He said the Executive Branch is working “behind the scenes” and believes that they now have the “necessary [bi-partisan] support” in the legislature.
Campbell expressed gratitude to Palau for accepting the Uighurs who he noted have seemingly made a peaceful life in this island nation, yet he acknowledged that the U.S. is still actively trying to secure for them a “permanent home.”
One of the U.S. priorities in the region also includes climate change to which the U.S. has committed a full time staff person to join the US embassy in Palau. Campbell additionally mentioned that the U.S. would also like to recognize Palau’s human sacrifice in the military and to that end, is planning an official cemetery to honor Palauans for their U.S. military service.
Underscoring the U.S.’s interest in the Pacific, Campbell announced that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will head to the Cook Islands for the Pacific Island Forum at the end of August 2012. (Notably, however, last year the United States sent its largest and highest level delegation ever to the Fourm in an effort to show a substantive shift in U.S. regional engagement; however, many claim this shift never really materialized.)
The U.S. delegation will visit Peleliu on August 5, 2012 to commemorate the anniversary of the WWII battle that was fought there. In the afternoon the delegation will depart Palau and make its way to Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands.
by Kassi Berg