“Palau has been and continues to be a strong partner with the United States,” U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs James Loi said at a recent congressional hearing on the Compact of Free Association between the United States and the Republic of Palau.
The United States’ emergence as a Pacific power was forged on the beaches of the Pacific during World War II. Maintaining the U.S. presence in the Pacific depends on strong relationships with the Freely Associated States of Palau, the Marshall Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia, which along with Hawaii, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and American Samoa comprise an invaluable strategic security zone.
Palau sits on the westernmost point of an arc from California to the Philippines. The importance of the special relationship with Palau is manifested in the U.S. defense posture in the Asia–Pacific region that spans almost the entire width of the Pacific Ocean.
The Compact between the United States and the Republic of Palau took effect in 1994. It does not have a termination date and requires a review on the 15-year, 30-year, and 40-year anniversaries. The legislation now proposed is to implement an Agreement that resulted from the 15-year review that concluded in September 2010.
The people-to-people ties between the United States and Palau continue to grow. Since 1966, more than 4,200 Peace Corps Volunteers taught English, offered life skills education, and supported economic development, education, capacity building, and marine and terrestrial resource conservation in Palau and in the two other Freely Associated States. Today approximately 55 Peace Corps volunteers serve in Micronesia and Palau.
“Of our many friends and partners in the region, we have perhaps none stronger than Palau,” Deputy Assistant Secretary James Loi said at the hearing. “Palau, a small island country far away in the Pacific, was our protectorate and is now our ally. The people of Palau are woven into the American fabric, serving with distinction and honor in our military and living and working beside us in the United States. ... As the economic center of gravity continues to shift to the Asia Pacific, the vital importance to U.S. interests of a stable, increasingly prosperous and democratic Palau continues to grow.”