President Tommy Remengesau, Jr., along with two other Freely Associated States (FAS) leaders, will meet United States President Donald Trump in Washington D.C. on May 21 to discuss safety and security in the Indo-Pacific region.

Vice President Raynold Oilouch, during a press conference on Wednesday, May 15, broke the news to the media, saying that the meeting with Trump in Washington D.C. had been arranged some time ago.

Remengesau will directly head to the United States after delivering a keynote speech at an international ministerial conference on smart ocean governance in Portugal on May 16. He transited from Fiji where he had been since May 12 to attend the third Climate Action Pacific Partnership Conference (CAPP) and climate talks with the United Nations Secretary General António Guterres.

When asked by the media if the meeting with Trump had something to do with the reports about North Korea firing a projectile last week, Vice President Oilouch said that he did not know the specific details of the meeting except that Trump and the FAS leaders will touch the issue about security and defense of the Indo-Pacific region.

Remengesau, along with Republic of the Marshall Islands President Hilda C. Heine, and Federated States of Micronesia President David W. Panuelo, will be welcomed by Trump at the White House.

A statement from the White House Press Secretary stated that the upcoming meeting will be the first time that all three FAS leaders are hosted together at the White House by a United States president, adding that this is a demonstration of “special partnership” among the nations.

“The leaders plan to discuss the close security ties between the United States and the FAS, their shared commitment to democracy and the rule of law, and their mutual interest in maintaining a free and open Pacific,” the White House statement read.

The announcement of the meeting comes after reports that North Korea launched short-range ballistic missiles on May 9 for the second time within a span of a week.

A report by BBC said that the launching of missiles happened after top US envoy arrived in South Korea to negotiate revival of nuclear negotiations with North Korea.

The US and North Korea had stalled talks on denuclearization after both failed to agree on a deal to lift sanctions in exchange for North Korea’s abandonment of its nuclear programs.

Meanwhile, Palau’s President signed an executive order on April 30 outlining a government policy to refuse entry or deny issuance of visa to individuals holding a passport issued by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) also known as North Korea.The EO, however, stated that the policy is in accordance with the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 1718- a resolution that imposes a series of economic and commercial sanctions on North Korea after its claimed nuclear test on October 9, 2006.

Based on the PVA statistics, there had been no North Korean visitors in Palau in 2018 but there were a total of 71 North Koreans who visited the country since 2008 until 2017.Vice President Oilouch also said he is positive that no North Koreans had also visited the country this year.

Oilouch added that with the issuance of the order, he believes that the country will not be seeing any more North Koreans in Palau. (By Rhealyn C. Pojas)