June 27, 2007

The Kaselehlie Press

Palikir, POHNPEI- on June 11 2007, President Emanuel Mori welcomed Secretary Dirk Kempthorne of the U.S. Department of the Interior to Palikir and to the Federated States of Micronesia.

President Mori welcomed Secretary Kempthorne and his delegation to Cabinet Room where they exchanged views on issues of environment, economic development and various challenges associated with implementation of the amended Compact of Free Association between the US and the FSM.

Alongside the President to welcome Secretary Kempthorne was, Vice President Alik L. Alik and the President's provisional Cabinet. The President shared with Secretary Kempthorne the new Administration's plans to restructure the government, "a re-organization of the government is needed to adapt to our situation today. Our goal and objective is performance efficiency and cost efficiency," the President noted.

He also touched upon reform measures currently proposed by the States of Chuuk and Kosrae to address the challenges of implementing the amended Compact. The President noted that the latter State has launched the first stages of its reform measures, with the Administration working closely with both States to ensure successful implement of these efforts.

Secretary Kempthorne commended the proposed reform measures by the States and the National Government. He noted that the measures not only identified the problems, but also provided a collaborative approach to resolving them. The problem/solving approach is also the basis of Secretary Kempthorne's visit to the islands.

Sworn into office in May 2006, Secretary Kempthorne had in October alluded to his visiting the islands. The Secretary confirmed his intentions during the May 2007 Pacific Islands Conference of Leaders meeting in Washington, DC.

The FSM is an "important part of the portfolio of the department of the interior, and for me to be as effective as possible, I needed to come meet you in your own turf," Secretary Kempthorne told President Mori. Secretary Kempthorne continued that the visit provided a first hand opportunity for him to see the place and personally meet with the people and their leaders to fully appreciate the concerns of the FSM.

In addition to the discussion on issues of bilateral interest, Secretary Kempthorne updated the President on the imminent relocation of the U.S. Marines to Guam and expanded on the holistic benefits of the move to Guam's neighboring islands.

Secretary Kempthorne's visit coincided with the Administration's 30-days "in Office" anniversary which as President Mori noted "is very timely as a source of confidence for this new administration" as well as the national government's new leadership.

The national government visit included a meeting with the Speaker Isaac V. Figir of the 15th FSM Congress, during which the Secretary planted a coconut seedling outside the Office of the Speaker.

After the Palikir visit, Secretary Kempthorne and his delegation proceeded to Pohnpei State Government to meet with Governor Johnny P. David and on to a tour of the Pohnpei State Hospital which concluded in a meeting with the Pohnpei Veterans of U.S. Armed Forces. Secretary Kempthorne's afternoon was spent touring the Nan Madol Ruins and FSM's various Marine Protected Areas around Pohnpei.

The Secretary's busy day was capped off that evening with a dinner reception at the Cliff Rainbow Restaurant where he was treated to and took part in a local Sakau ceremony. Secretary Kempthorne held a press conference with the local media the following morning before departing for the Republic of the Marshall Islands in continuation of his tour to the US affiliated Pacific Islands.

The Secretary is accompanied on his tour of the Pacific Islands by BJ Penn, Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Installations and Environment; Rear Admiral William French, Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Marianas; David Cohen, Interior's Deputy Assistant Secretary for Insular Affairs and Donald Schregardus, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Environment along with staff members from the Department of the Interior and the Department of Defense.