Deputy Assistant Secretary Nakoa Meets Island Leaders in Palau, Guam

Building and Strengthening Relationships

Last edited 04/05/2022
Contact Information

Contact: Tanya Harris Joshua (202) 355-3023



WASHINGTON – The United States (U.S.) Department of the Interior’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for Insular and International Affairs Keone Nakoa traveled to Palau and Guam last week, where he met with President Surangel Whipps, Jr. in Palau and Governor Lourdes “Lou” Leon Guerrero on Guam, among other meetings. This trip marks Nakoa’s first trip to these island areas since he assumed his role as Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Biden-Harris administration and the first from Interior leadership since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I am grateful to have had the ability to meet with our partners and colleagues in-person and on the ground in their respective island areas to learn and experience first-hand their unique circumstances, especially as we have important work to continue both with Palau and Guam,” said Deputy Assistant Secretary Nakoa. “Key to the success of our work is the strength of our relationships and the ability to keep our channels of communication open and clear. This trip establishes the important connections we have with Palau and Guam and assures all the Insular Areas of our efforts to highlight their value and importance to the American family. I appreciate the warm welcome I received from President Whipps and Governor Leon Guerrero during this productive trip. I look forward to visiting the rest of the insular areas in-person soon.”

Nakoa traveled to Palau where he met with Palau President Surangel Whipps, Jr., Vice President Uduch Sengebau, Foreign Minister Gustav Aitaro, Finance Minister Caleb Udui, Minister of Health and Human Services Gaafar Uherbelau, and other Ministers in the President’s Cabinet. Nakoa also met with U.S. Ambassador to the Palau John Hennessey-Niland, U.S. Military Senior Defense Liaison Lead Captain John Sullivan and others on the U.S. Embassy Team. Sites visited by Nakoa while in Palau included the Belau National Hospital, National and State Parks, and the Belau National Museum, among others.

On Guam DAS Nakoa met with Guam Governor Lou Leon Guerrero and her staff in her office in Hagåtña. DAS Nakoa also met with Rear Admiral Benjamin R. Nicholson, Commander, Joint Region Marianas and other Department of Defense leadership. While on Guam, DAS Nakoa also visited projects and sites supported with funding provided through the Office of Insular Affairs.

The Assistant Secretary of Insular and International Affairs and the Office of Insular Affairs (OIA) carry out the Secretary of the Interior’s responsibilities for the U.S. territories of American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Additionally, OIA administers and oversees federal assistance under the Compacts of Free Association to the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau. OIA also administers a discretionary Technical Assistance Program for all the insular areas. Find information about OIA and its work on, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.



Was this page helpful?

Please provide a comment