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U.S. Department of the Interior - Office of Insular Affairs
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Secretary Salazar Meets with Palau President Toribiong



March 12, 2009

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar greets Palau President Johnson Toribiong during March 12, 2009 visit at Interior Headquarters. Photo by R. Beffrey, OIA.WASHINGTON, D.C. – Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today met with the new President of Palau Johnson Toribiong at the Department the Interior. This is President Toribiong’s first official visit to Washington, D.C. since he was inaugurated on January 15th.

At the meeting today, President Toribiong and the Secretary discussed the Compact of Free Association between the U.S. Government and Palau, the financial provisions of which are scheduled to expire on Sept. 30, 2009. Upon emerging from the United Nation’s Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands, Palau entered into a 50-year Compact of Free Association with the United States which began on October 1, 1994. The financial provisions are schedule to expire after 15 years.
Participating in the March 12, 2009 meeting at Interior headquarters

Secretary Salazar assured President Toribiong that Palau would remain on the Department's agenda and described ongoing efforts to staff positions at the highest levels of the Department and Insular Affairs. He said his staff would be working collaboratively with the Department of State and other federal agencies to ensure a cohesive and unified approach to Palau.

The Secretary thanked the President and Palau's Ambassador to the United States, Hersey Kyota for the service and sacrifices of the citizens of Palau who proudly serve in the U.S. armed forces. Citizens of Palau are among the highest per capita members of the armed forces, compared to other U.S. jurisdictions.

President Toribiong was accompanied at the meeting by Palau Minister of State Sandra Pierentozzi; Palau's Ambassador to the U.S., Hersey Kyota; and Palau Senator Regina K. Mesebeluu. Also attending the meeting were Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Insular Affairs, Nikolao Pula; Director of Budgets and Compact Grants, Tom Bussanich; and Palau Desk Officer, Tanya Joshua. Ms. Alcy Frelick, Director of the Office of Australia, New Zealand and Pacific Affairs at the Department of State also attended.

 Palau President Johnson Toribiong discusses the Compact of Free Association with Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar at March 12, 2009 meeting at Interior Headquarters. Photo by R. Beffrey, OIA.  U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar greets Palau President Johnson Toribiong during March 12, 2009 visit at Interior Headquarters. Photo by Tami Heilemann, DOI.