Palau will seek further assistance from the United States to boost its surveillance capacity to monitor the country’s national marine sanctuary, President Tommy Remengesau Jr. said on Wednesday.
He said the increase in surveillance will be brought up in today’s short visit of U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper in the country.
“We have the marine sanctuary that needs to be monitored and so we can also raise the idea of collaboration where the Navy or the U.S. Coast Guard can conduct exercises in our waters, while at the same time help with the monitoring and surveillance of the area,” Remengesau told reporters on Wednesday.
Under the Compact of Free Association, the U.S. is responsible for Palau’s defense, while the U.S. military has access to the islands.
Remengesausees Esper’s visit as strengthening of security in the Into-Pacific region.
“It is important that he (Esper) hears from us directly that this close friendship between these two countries on how it can be further strengthened and enhanced even more, as it will boost the US standing within the Pacific region as part of the Indo-Pacific Strategy,” Remengesau added.
The Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy is promoted by the U.S together with Japan and other allies to counter China. Palau, although has reiterated that it will maintain its relationship with Taiwan, is open to economic cooperation with China.
In 2017, U.S. has announced plans to install radar systems in Palau which will enhance maritime law enforcement capability and provide America greater air domain awareness for aviation safety and security.
The radar system would help Palau monitor its more than 500,000 square kilometer marine sanctuary implemented earlier this year.
The nation has been seeking partners and allies to monitor its marine sanctuary to track illegal activities such as IUU (illegal , unreported and unregulated fishing) and smuggling.

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