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The Contemporary Pacific 15.1 (2003) 166-173

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Donald R Shuster
Micronesian Area Research Center, University of Guam

During the period under review, President Tommy E Remengesau, Jr, into his second full year as the Republic of Palau's chief executive, established himself as a proactive leader. His agenda was full with international and domestic matters.

Given the special political relationship of free association which Palau and the United States established in 1994, the island nation responded to the September 11th terrorist attacks on the United States by issuing messages of condolence, conducting memorial services, sending monetary contributions, and flying the national flag at half mast. President Remengesau informed the US government that Palau's airport and harbors would be available for mobilization efforts in the war against terrorism.

In August, Remengesau made a mark for himself and Palau at the Pacific Islands Forum conference held on Nauru. He signed two trade agreements with the other sixteen heads of Pacific Island states but, more importantly, led the group of chief executives in urging all nations to support ratification of the Kyoto Protocol, which addresses global climate change by establishing measures to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases.

Prior to the Forum meeting on Nauru, Remengesau made his second state visit to Japan, where he met with [End Page 166] Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi. In March 2002, the president also made a state visit to the Republic of China (ROC) where he and his party met with President Chen Shui-bian and toured several important operations, including an aquaculture center. Later in the year, the president publicly came out in support of Taiwan's membershipin the World Health Organization, and Palauan health officials have been impressed by the quality of health care in the Republic of China and its medical assistance to Palau. Mr Remengesau attended the republic's ninetieth anniversary celebration hosted by Ambassador Chen in Koror. Also, Palau opened its embassy in Taiwan with Mr Johnson Toribiong serving as Palau's first ambassador to the Republic of China. The acceptance of Toribiong's credentials was a most impressive event, which had an element of high security.

In March, President Remengesau made his first official visit to Mexico where he and 149 other heads of state attended a UN-sponsored conference on development. He urged his fellow conferees to attack the problems of poverty and tension head on.

In visits to the United States during the period under review, President Remengesau attended the fifty-sixth session of the UN General Assembly. In his speech to the world body, Remengesau urged acceptance of Taiwan as a member; he also recommended that Japan be seated as a permanent member of the Security Council, that member nations ratify the Kyoto Protocol, and that they recognize more clearly the needs of the Pacific Island micro-nations. In March, President Remengesau was in Washington DC to enter Palau as a member of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, which has the potential of stimulating American private investment in Palau. While in Washington, the president signed an agreement with the Department of Justice concerning mutual cooperation on immigration issues; he also met with federal officials regarding Palau's membership in the National Exchange Carriers Association and Universal Service Program, which would result in lower long-distance telephone rates for Palau.

In April, the president sent the National Congress proposed resolutions to ratify Palau's accession to the 1996 Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty. In his message to the congress, Remengesau stated that Palau's party to the treaty would reaffirm its constitutional commitment to a Pacific nuclear-free zone, and that Palau desires "that . . . no nation, whether industrial and mighty or poor and developing, will resort to the awful concept of such weapons of mass destruction." Should Palau become a signatory to the test-ban treaty, the organization that implements the treaty would establish and fund the operation of a monitoring station to be located in Ngaremlengui State on Babeldaob Island. The station would be able to detect low-level nuclear explosions and seismic activity thousands of miles away.

Remengesau also sent the...