A historic visit of the United States Secretary of Defense Mark Esper ended with confirmations of both United States and Palau to conclude the Second Compact Review Agreement by the end of the year.
The visit demonstrated United States policy toward the pacific which Secretary Esper expressed as shared value of “an open and free Indo- Pacific where all countries respect rules and norms, peace and prosperity to all nations…which is under threat from China.”
Meanwhile, President Remengesau emphasized Palau’s current situation under the stress of COVID-19 and the role United States can play in strengthening the relationship by helping economically.
Remengesau said that talks with Secretary Esperson the Indo-Pacific strategy “gives those of us in Palau a great sense of security and stability” and to the region.
The US Secretary of Defense’s visit, particularly in the midst of a pandemic, expressed a strong statement about United States interest in the region and garnered various reactions from different people.
In Palau, concern over possible transmission of COVID-19 virus from visit was top issue. This concern turned to fear when the very next day after Esper’s departure, an article from CNN reported that a member of Esper’s team was tested positive for COVID-19 virus.
The information on the article was later debunked when it was clarified that the “team member” was not actually part of the team that came to Palau nor was part of the delegation of the Secretary of Defense and in fact, was a trip scheduler, according to information from the Office of the President.