Palau President reaffirms close ties with US, Guam

Palau President Surangel Whipps Jr. during an exclusive interview with PNC. (PNC photo)

PNC sat down with the President of Palau for an exclusive interview on its ongoing partnership with the United States and Guam.

Palau President Surangel Whipps Jr. is here on Guam for the Joint Committee Meeting with the federal government. In an exclusive interview with PNC, the Palau President shared some of the highlights of that meeting.

The JCM meeting was held this week, starting May 10. This usually happens twice a year, according to the Palau President.

The Joint Committee meeting with the United States Government is the venue for open discussion and briefings on a number of important bilateral issues — from the Indo-Pacific partnership and Compact Impact concerns to regional security.

President Whipps Jr. says Palau and the US share a strong partnership and share the value of freedom and democracy and a belief in a free and open Indo-Pacific.

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“This is our first meeting. We already have a Compact so the US has access to Palau to operate defense sites and do other activities there. I think the opportunity is so we are on the same page. We have a good understanding of what are our plans moving forward and how we can assist each other to make sure that our plans are working together and not working against each other,” Whipps said.

He added: “One of the main things is that we continue to see an increased presence of the US military in Palau —whether for training exercises or other activities and the people of Palau welcome them. They make us feel safe and we know that the United States is committed to our relationship in securing our islands.

The Palau President also had a separate meeting with Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero where Micronesian Islands Forum and other regional concerns were discussed.

“It was a fruitful meeting. We are trying to find ways that we can cooperate. She had some great ideas about partnership and maybe how we can work together to further strengthen that relationship between the Micronesian Islands. I think that is always important and just cooperating on looking at how our peoples are impacted — whether it’s a disaster coming up or COVID — what can we learn from each other and what are the best practices where we can keep our people safe,” Whipps said.

He added: “Just being here and seeing what Guam has done. You have COVID but you are doing a great job in trying to contain it. I look forward to when she (Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero) can visit us in Palau.”

There will be a second part to the interview with Palau President Surangel Whipps Jr. where he will talk about tourism and economic recovery in Palau.