Palau President Surangel Whipps Jr. is coming to Guam next week for the annual Joint Committee Meeting (JCM) with the U.S. government to tackle a wide range of issues including regional security and the Compact of Free Association.
“This is a standard meeting between Palau and the U.S. government that happens once or twice a year,” Whipps said.
The JCM was created as part of the Compact to align the needs of both countries to help ensure the U.S. is prepared to provide for Palau’s security and defense.
The meeting will be held from May 10 to 13 at Naval Base Guam. Whipps will meet with Adm. John Menoni, the outgoing commander of the Joint Region Marianas. Under the Compact, the senior U.S. military commander in the Pacific area serves as the senior U.S. member of the joint committee.
The Joint Region Marianas oversees the installation management functions of both U.S. Naval Base Guam and Andersen Air Force Base. The JRM chief also serves as the commander of U.S. Naval Forces Marianas and Defense Representative to Guam, CNMI, Palau and the Federated States of Micronesia.
Menoni, who is now winding down his duties as U.S. Indo-Pacific Command representative, will be succeeded by Capt. Benjamin R. Nicholson.
The last Joint Committee Meeting was held in 2019. “Because of Covid, no meeting was held last year,” said Whipps, who assumed the presidency in January.
In general, Whipps said, the meeting is aimed at strengthening the bilateral relations between Palau and the United States.
The two nations last year began negotiating the renewal of the expiring provisions of the Compact of Free Associations.
During the visit, however, Whipps said he won’t be able to meet with the Palauan community on Guam due to his restricted itinerary. For safety reasons, he said, he will commute between the hotel and the Navy base.