Esper reaffirms US partnership with Palau, CNMI

U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper delivers a speech during his stop in Palau. (video screen capture)

Apart from Guam, Defense Secretary Mark Esper also visited Palau and touched base with CNMI officials to affirm the United States partnership with the two jurisdictions.

The Secretary of Defense called Governor Ralph DLG Torres over the phone on Saturday to convey his commitment to a stronger relationship with the CNMI.

During the conversation, Torres expressed his gratitude for the Department of Defense’s support during past emergencies and disasters, including the COVID-19 pandemic, while also reemphasizing the need for the CNMI and DoD to have a stronger relationship in military discussions.

Earlier, Esper was with Palau President Tommy Remengesau Jr. and other officials where he and Esper talked about the ongoing Compact negotiations and Indo-Pacific security concerns.

(From the President of the Republic of Palau’s FB page)
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“And together we remain committed to upholding the international rules and norms and promoting free and open borders to ensure security, stability, prosperity, and sovereignty for nations of all sizes and all situations,” he said.

Esper added: “Today we discussed — as the President had mentioned— the importance of the Compact of Free Association —with Palau — the United States is proud to guarantee Palau’s defense under this agreement — which has brought us closer for decades.”

Remengesau Jr. said that there’s a lot of things collaboratively discussed on the Indo-Pacific strategy and it gives Palau a great sense of security and a great sense of stability heading into the future when the Secretary of Defense is able to meet with Palau and hear not only the views of Palau but the region.

Following reports of potential exposure within Esper’s delegation to COVID-19, the Palau government issued a statement saying that the individual who was reported positive for COVID19 did not travel to Palau, and neither the Secretary of Defense nor any in his delegation came into contact with the COVID-19 positive individual.