MAJURO, 05 DECEMBER 2019 (MARIANAS VARIETY) — Pacific island governments should strengthen their relationship with the United States, Marshall Islands Speaker Kenneth A. Kedi said Wednesday during the Association of Pacific Island Legislatures (APIL) 60th board meeting in the CNMI House chamber on Capital Hill.

He said when APIL holds its general assembly in Hawaii next year, he will introduce a resolution reaffirming the islands’ “strong ties” with the U.S.

Kedi made these remarks after Kiribati Member of Parliament Emil Christopher Schutz said the people of his island nation are “deeply divided” after their government switched its diplomatic ties from Taiwan to China.

Among the three Freely Associated States, the Marshalls and Palau have diplomatic ties with Taiwan while the Federated States of Micronesia has diplomatic ties with China.

“It is not a happy situation back home — it is going to be very difficult for us,” said Schutz a member of the opposition in the Kiribati Parliament.

He said “our people are being misled” by the government and “money is being used” by China to secure the support of the island’s leaders.

“To me that is very dangerous,” Schutz said adding that he brought up the issue during the APIL board meeting so that members could address it somehow.

Kedi, who sat next to Schutz during the meeting, said he understands where his colleague from Kiribati is coming from.

He said the resolution that he will introduce in the next general assembly will assure the U.S. that “we are here to stay, we are your partners, we have established a unique and special relationship, and we have sacrificed with you for many, many years.”

In an interview, Kedi said Pacific island leaders must inform the U.S. government that “we are not going anywhere but you also need to address the long-standing issues that affect island people’s lives.”

Kedi said although the official election results in the Marshall Island have yet to be announced, “We don’t believe that it will be the case now,” referring to the possible shift of diplomatic ties from Taiwan to China.

But he said in the current administration, there are ministers who are “running a little rogue,” and are trying to meddle with the relationship that the Marshalls parliament has with Taiwan by continuously visiting China.

Kedi said the incoming majority, of which he is member, intends to strengthen the partnership of the Marshall Islands with the U.S., Taiwan, and Japan.

APIL members include American Samoa, the CNMI, Guam, Hawaii, the Marshall Islands, Palau, Kiribati, Nauru, and the FSM states of Chuuk, Kosrae, Pohnpei and Yap… (PACNEWS)