Federal team in FSM to gather data for COFA negotiations

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FSM President David W. Panuelo welcomed representatives from the U.S. Department of State, Department of Defense, and the Department of Interior.(Photo from the FSM government)

The FSM government received a team of U.S. Government officials, who are visiting the islands this week to gather information before the onset of the COFA negotiations.

FSM President David W. Panuelo welcomed representatives from the U.S. Department of State, Department of Defense, and the Department of Interior.

State Department official Suzanne Lawrence led the multi-agency team that arrived on Oct 31, Thursday. Lawrence is the director for the Office of Australia, New Zealand, and Pacific Islands.

According to information from the FSM government, the officials are gathering information prior to the negotiations on the expiring provisions of the amended Compact of Free Association or COFA.

Panuelo said that U.S. Department of State Undersecretary David Hale informed him of the visit in an earlier meeting.

“…We’re going to be listening to you, what you have to say. But I believe that it is important that, number one, when you leave, we have some framework of negotiation parameters; and number two is the timeframe [by which to commence the Compact negotiations],” Panuelo told the visiting officials.

Panuelo also described his vision of seeing, among other things, infrastructure funding from the Compact freed up so that it can be used in a manner that is both highly effective and highly visible, according to the FSM government.