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Trump administration approves use of $7M to support Palau telecommunications security and resiliency

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WASHINGTON (U.S. Interior Department) — The Trump Administration, through the U.S. department of the Interior, has approved the use of $7 million in United States grant assistance funding made available under the Palau Compact Review Agreement between the United States and the Republic of Palau to support a second sub-marine, fiber-optic cable spur connecting Palau to the ECHO cable network.

“Interior Secretary David Bernhardt and I are pleased to support the Republic of Palau, on behalf of the administration, and have approved the use of $7 million in Compact infrastructure grant assistance towards a second fiberoptic cable spur connection to Palau,” said Douglas W. Domenech, Interior assistant secretary for insular and international affairs. “Strong fiber-optic connectivity for Palau has been described by Palau President Tommy Remengesau as a national priority and is critical for continued economic development for the island nation and its people.”

U.S. Ambassador to Palau John Hennessey-Niland welcomed the announcement describing it as “very good news” and noted that “secure, resilient communications are a key component of the Indo-Pacific Strategy. As President Remengesau has stated, fiber optic connectivity has revolutionized the way people live and work.” 

Additional support is being provided by the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Australian Infrastructure Financing Facility for the Pacific, and the Japan Bank for International Cooperation in partnership with the Republic of Palau

The United States and Palau governments have shared a special relationship under the Compact of Free Association or U.S. Public Law 99-658, since 1994. On March 26, 2018, President Trump signed the 2018 Omnibus Funding Agreement which included $123 million in funding through 2024 for the 2010 Palau Compact Review Agreement, completing the first 15-year review and amendment process as provided for under the Compact between the United States and Palau. In September 2018, DOI authorized the immediate transfer of $87 million in payment to Palau, which included $65 million for the Palau Compact Trust Fund and $22 million to be used for economic assistance. The remaining $34 million was to be used through 2024 for infrastructure projects and maintenance. Today’s announcement authorizing $7 million in support for Palau’s telecommunications infrastructure follows a September 2019 announcement of $9.2 million provided through DOI for road and dock infrastructure improvements in Palau.

The United States and Palau are currently in discussions regarding expiring provisions of the Compact of Free Association relative to Palau and the next review required under the Compact for 2024. 

November 2020 pssnewsletter

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