The U.S. Government has begun negotiations on the expiring provisions of the amended Compact of Free Association, or COFA.
The current amended agreement between the United States, the FSM, and the Republic of the Marshall Islands will expire in 2023. Meanwhile, Palau’s agreement will expire in 2024.
FSM President David Panuelo, RMI President Hilda Heine and Palau Vice President Raynold B. Oilouch met with Mike Pompeo, Secretary of the US Department of State in an anticipated bilateral meeting in Pohnpei to discuss the COFA and other matters.
Following the meeting, Pompeo and the other FAS leaders held a press conference where Pompeo announced the commitment of the United States to proceed with the Compact negotiations.
“Finally, we are taking concrete actions to solidify our bonds. Today, I am pleased to announce that the United States has begun negotiations on extending our respective Compacts of Free Association with each country. These Compacts help sustain the important strategic partnerships that the Freely Associated States have had with the United States since World War II,” Pompeo said.
Pompeo said he is deeply honored to be the first Secretary of State to ever visit the Federated States of Micronesia.
“So today I am here to reaffirm that the United States’ will help you protect your sovereignty, your security and your right to live in freedom and peace. Just as we did during World War II, we will oppose any larger nations’ attempts to turn the Pacific islands into footholds for regional dominance. Beyond defense and security, the United States will continue to offer assistance with natural disasters and will continue to help you build strong societies by supporting the young Pacific leaders’ initiative,” Pompeo said.
In May, the three FAS presidents headed to the White House to meet with President Donald J. Trump. The meeting marked a historic first in FAS and U.S. relations. All three nations are tied with the federal government through the COFA, an agreement which allows FAS citizens to enter, work and live in the U.S. and its territories without a visa for a certain period of time.