Kaleb Udui Jr., Palau's chief compact negotiator, and his U.S. counterpart, Ambassador Joseph Yun, put their initials on the 20-page agreement late afternoon Wednesday. The ceremony marks a crucial step in concluding the discussions on the major economic assistance while further solidifying the strong relationship between the two countries.

Ten of the twelve Senators boycotted the Compact Review Agreement initialing ceremony at the Capital in Ngerulmud on Wednesday, May 17, 2023.  Two Senators, Mason Whipps and Rukebai Inabo attended but did not represent the Senate.

Palau’s Chief Compact Negotiator Finance Minister Kaleb Udui Jr. and US Special Envoy Joseph Yun initialed the 2nd Compact Review Agreement.

“We are not against the agreement. We are upset that we are not given the courtesy of knowing what is being initialized. We were not provided a copy of the document to be initialed but asked to witness the initialization,” explained Senate President Hokkons Baules of Senate’s absence.

Another Senator who asked to remain unnamed said they’ve been asking for a copy of the MOU signed in January 2023.  “President has spoken a lot about what is in the document, but when we ask for a copy, no one could provide us a copy.” 

The copy was provided to Senate on Wednesday morning, while the signing ceremony was for Wednesday afternoon. 

Chief Negotiation Kaleb Udui Jr. said the document was still being revised until the signing day.  He said they asked to brief OEK but could not give out the document because it was still a “work in progress.”  He also said that the signing was symbolic but essential.

Ambassador and Special Envoy Joseph Yun said it is very important and hopes that the Palau Congress and the United States Congress ratify the contract to show strong support and relationship between the two countries. 

Again, speaking anonymously to Island Times, the Senator said they need to know what is in agreement and what commitments are being made on behalf of Palau.  “There were commitments in the first Compact, commitments in the 1st Compact Review, and I am sure there are commitments and expectations that the United States expects from us.  As people’s representatives, we must know and decide if those commitments are acceptable. For example, we agreed to have the United States defend us under the Compact, but we did not agree to defend the United States or the Indo-Pacific.  We have no enemies.  That’s why we are upset that that document is being kept from us.”

At the press conference on Thursday, President Whipps said that the document would be provided to OEK once it has been signed.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *