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    President David W. Panuelo and fellow Micronesian Leaders meet with U.S. Department of Defense Acting Secretary Patrick M. Shanahan


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    President David W. Panuelo and fellow Micronesian Leaders meet with U.S. Department of Defense Acting Secretary Patrick M. Shanahan

    Washington, DC, May 21, 2019 – His Excellency David W. Panuelo, President of the Federated States of Micronesia, and his fellow Micronesian Leaders met with Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick M. Shanahan at the Pentagon today.

    This was the first time that all three leaders of the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of Palau, and the Republic of the Marshall Islands, were hosted together at the Pentagon, demonstrating the special partnership between the United States and the Compact of Free Association (COFA) countries.

    Among the highlights of the discussions were the rapidly changing political and security dynamics in the Pacific, and the on-going cooperative efforts to increase U.S. focus and presence in the region.  According to the Acting Secretary, the Pacific region is a top priority of U.S. National Defense policy, and the U.S. is actively rededicating significant defense resources to the region.  These resources include funding, military force presence, and defense projects and programs.

    The Acting Secretary reiterated the importance and significance of the special relationship that exists between the COFA countries and the United States, and stressed the commitment that the United States has to the Defense of the three Nations.   “The United States stands ready to defend your countries against outside threats such as North Korea. We are committed to working with you to address common security challenges such as illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing,” said the Acting Secretary.  He also acknowledged, with great appreciation, the dedication and service of Micronesian citizens in the U.S. Armed Forces.

    The three Presidents acknowledged and welcomed the statement by the Acting Secretary.  President Panuelo responded by saying, “Mr. Secretary, our defense and security commitments under the Compacts of the Freely Associated States has never wavered at any time in the history of our relationship, and that will continue in perpetuity, as far as we're concerned.”  In follow-on discussions, President Panuelo also emphasized the very prominent role that the U.S. Department of Defense plays in the Compact Treaty with the FSM, and how critical it is that both countries expedite plans to address the expiring provisions of the Compact of Free Association, as Amended.

    As the meeting concluded, President Panuelo expressed deep appreciation for the opportunity to meet and discuss these important Defense relationship matters.

    “We welcome whatever intentions the U.S. is having in terms of expanded and increased presence in our country,” said President Panuelo. “And so with our two presidents here, I convey our collective thank you and appreciation for the great honor of being here, and being hosted by your government. Thank you so much.”

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