By Pacific Island Times News Staff
Negotiators representing the United States and the Federated States of Micronesia have concluded the latest round of discussions on the renewal of expiring provisions of the Compact of Free Association.
Leo A. Falcam Jr., chief negotiator for the FSM, expressed his satisfaction with the outcome of the latest talks.
Without giving specific details, Falcam said the negotiating panels have made progress in some key areas of the economic package proposed by the FSM.
"We have much more work to do but are engaging constructively, and I am optimistic we will reach an agreement later this year,” Falcam said after the two-day meeting. According to a press release from the FSM government, both sides plan to continue technical work and discussions in advance of the next formal round of negotiations which is scheduled for September.
The panels are negotiating the terms of the extension of U.S. economic assistance to the FSM after the current provisions expire in fiscal 2023. "The compact is key to the important and ongoing relationship between the FSM and the U.S., and contributes to the peace, security, and prosperity of the greater Indo-Pacific region," the FSM government said. In an announcement in April, FSM President David Panuelo said the proposed compact package lists demands that will satisfy his nation's immediate and long-term economic needs.
"The economic assistance package, developed over several years, addresses key issues and concerns and, if accepted, would result in transformational improvements in the lives and livelihoods of all Micronesians," Panuelo said in a statement on April 20.
Negotiators are targeting the completion of the compact talks by fall.