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Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne Meets with Palau President Tommy Remengesau

Kempthorne and Remengesau

WASHINGTON, D.C., February 25, 2008 - Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne received a visit from the President of the Republic of Palau Tommy Remengesau on Feb. 25, 2008.  They discussed a number of topics, including the possibility of creating a National Heritage Area on Peleliu to commemorate that important World War II battle and the upcoming Review of the Compact of Free Association.

Secretary Kempthorne thanked President Remengesau again for the hospitality extended to him while on his trip to Palau in June 2007, "There is no substitute for actually seeing the place."  President Remengesau expressed his sincere appreciation that the Secretary actually took the time to visit, "We are still all abuzz about it."

President Remengesau asked for the Secretary's support in the internal discussions the U.S. is having leading up to the Compact Review.  "We are proud to have a big brother such as the United States," said President Remengesau. "Others in the Pacific claim Australia, New Zealand, or France as their big brother.  We have the United States and hope that we can count on that partnership."

Idechong, Whipps, Pula, Kempthorne, Remengesau

The Secretary thanked President Remengesau for Palau's continued support in the War on Terror and for all the Palauan citizens who continue to join the U.S. military.   President Remengesau stressed the importance of security and stability in Palau, the importance of the relationship between Palau and the United States and how proud their young men and women are to serve.  Chief of Staff Billy Kuartei pointed out that Palau is officially an Induction Ceremony Center for enlistees from Palau and nearby Yap and that this was done for a reason:  so that families and the Palauan public could participate in these ceremonies and be proud of their service.  The President has a nephew serving and Palau's Ambassador to the U.S. has a son and daughter who served in Iraq.  Even the Secretary has a son-in-law who is soon to be deployed to the Middle East.  "We are all in this together," said the Secretary, "and that is why we have to be strong."

The Secretary and President Remengesau discussed possible partnerships between D.C. area hospitals and hospitals in Palau through which, both agreed, could be shared valuable assistance from basic sanitization and sterilization protocols to medical equipment.

In the Secretary's Office

Secretary Kempthorne congratulated Remengesau on being honored and recognized last October as one of Time Magazine’s Heroes of the Environment.  They reminisced about their road trip last year on the Babeldaob road, which they both took on Harleys and in some areas rode through the pouring rain.  The U.S.-built Babeldaob road was officially opened on October 1, 2007.  “Since the road was opened, we have had an increase in housing and business applications…our forefathers had a vision for Babeldaob, but we needed a road and now thanks to the U.S. we have that.” President Remengesau told the Secretary.

President Remengesau came to Washington, D.C., to participate in the 10th Annual Coral Reef Task Force meeting.  President Remengesau was accompanied by the President of the Senate Surangel Whipps, Vice Speaker of the House Noah Idechong, Palau Ambassador to the U.S. Hersey Kyota, Director of Budget Kasmir Remengesau, Chief of Staff Billy Kuartei, Counsel Larry Goddard and Vann Isaac of the President’s Office.

To conclude his visit to Washington, President Remengesau hosted a reception on Capitol Hill for friends of Palau.  “We consider ourselves part of the American family and are proud of this relationship,” the President said in his remarks at the reception. “You can count on us whether it is our vote at the United Nations, an example of democracy in the Pacific or the service of our young men and women in the War on Terror.”

President Remengesau also visited the newly opened National Museum of the Marine Corps in Quantico, Virginia, where he donated some World War II artifacts from the State of Peleliu as a commemoration of the great sacrifice made by the U.S. Marines in Palau during the Second World War.