SECRETARY BLINKEN: Thank you, everyone. Good evening. President Whipps, we’ve had the opportunity to meet a number of times in Washington, but it’s especially good to be with you here in the Pacific Islands.
Palau and the United States have a strong relationship rooted in a rich history, and I am grateful to you for all that you’ve done to deepen those bonds even further.
To Special Envoy Yun, it’s pretty simple: This day would not have happened without the extraordinary work of you and your team as well as our team at Embassy Koror. And I can’t thank you enough for actually coming out of retirement now – (applause) – and answering the call to serve as you’ve done throughout an extraordinary career of more than three decades in foreign service.
And to Ambassador Karen Stewart as well, thank you for launching this round of negotiations and for staying on to carry them over the finish line. It’s really great to see you.
And thank you as well to our colleagues across the Department of the Interior, including Assistant Secretary Cantor for your joint efforts in negotiating this agreement. This collaboration is just one more demonstration of the whole-of-government approach that we’re taking to implement our Indo-Pacific Strategy.
For nearly two decades now, the Compact of Free Association has been a hallmark of partnership. Under the agreement, the United States has been enriched by the contributions of Palauan citizens who come to further their studies, to work throughout our country, to serve in all of the branches of our armed services. And we’re proud of the role that we played in helping build Palau’s public health infrastructure, strengthening its energy grid, working together to respond to disasters like the Typhoon Jelawat in 2018.
Today’s agreement we’re about to sign will ensure that this partnership continues to deliver for our people, including by tackling the climate crisis, promoting sustainable economic development, bolstering our security.
These same goals animate the agreement that we’ll sign with the Federated States of Micronesia and the one that we’re working hard to finalize with the Republic of the Marshall Islands.
In total, the United States will commit $7.1 billion to the Freely Associated States over the next 20 years. It’s an investment in our shared Pacific future, one defined by peace, by freedom, by democracy, by the rule of law, by (inaudible).
Enhancing our special relationship with the Freely Associated States is a critical part of our effort, and we look forward to taking many more steps together when we welcome our Pacific Island partners to Washington later this year. So this is a very happy occasion, an important occasion, and one that didn’t just happen. It took a lot of work, a lot of effort. The president and I were just recalling the first time we met now close to two years ago, and ever since then we’ve been working very hard to get to this day. And to our teams, thank you for bringing us across the finish line.
Thank you very much. (Applause.)