Deputy Assistant Secretary James Loi today said Palau has been and continues to be a strong partner with the United States.
In his testimony before the house Foreign Affairs Committee Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, Mr. Loi stressed the importance of U.S. bilateral relationship with Palau.
He also discussed the Compact with Palau and proposed legislation approving the results of the mandated 15-year Compact Review.
“History has proven that this small Pacific island nation remains indispensable to our national security and other core interests in the Pacific. Current and future challenges convince us we must remain steadfast to a thriving relationship that delivers much more than it costs.” -Mr. Loi
He noted that U.S. Compact with Palau took effect in 1994. He said that two governments worked closely over 20 months of discussions and negotiations to conclude the recent15-year review, which resulted in an Agreement my predecessor, Ambassador Frankie Reed, signed with President Toribiong in September of 2010.
“The legislation now proposed is to implement the Agreement. The Agreement and proposed legislation are the outcome of the review and the manifestation of the shared commitments between our two governments.” -Mr. Loi
He said Palau sits on the westernmost point of an arc from California to the Philippines and anchors a security zone that safeguards U.S. interests in the Pacific.
“Our relationship was born after terrible battles in World War II, notably at Pelelieu in Palau, and has been built over the decades since 1945.” -Mr Loi
He reported that shortly after the end of World War II, the United Nations assigned the United States administering authority over the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands, which included Palau and island districts of Micronesia that we had liberated from Japanese occupation.
He stressed that the United States paid dearly in blood in World War II to free Palau. More than 3,000 American soldiers lost their lives and more than 10,000 were wounded in the Battle of Peleliu, one of the bloodiest battles of World War II.
“The battle for Palau is a story that every American should understand and that generations before us have acknowledged as creating a sacred trust to remember and honor.” -Mr. Loi
He stressed that rising from the ashes of the war, with the strong and steady bipartisan support of the American people, Palau rebuilt its infrastructure and modeled its government upon the principles of democracy, human rights, and fundamental freedoms.