Palikir, Pohnpei – On Friday November 20th, the Federated States of Micronesia hosted the annual Joint Committee Meeting with the United States of America, commonly referred to as the JCM. The meeting was held at the Pacific Missionary Aviation (PMA) auditorium in Kolonia with high-level attendants from both Governments, and continues to serve as a platform for the two countries to jointly discuss issues of importance and of common interest, specifically as it relates to security and defense matters as prescribed in Title III of the Amended Compact of Free-Association Treaty.
The meeting commenced with an opening remark by T.H. Samson E. Pretrick, Deputy Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Head of the FSM delegation to the JCM. He welcomed all visiting delegates to the FSM and affirmed that the defense and security arrangement between the two countries is a vital element of the bilateral partnership between the FSM and the United States. Sincere appreciation of the FSM for the level of security protection accorded to its territory and people, as part of the extension of the American defense umbrella, as highlighted. The Deputy Secretary reflected on the recent tragic incidences in France and affirmed that continuing collective efforts are needed to enhance the global fights against terrorism. A moment of silence was called for to honor the victims of the tragic event.
Fitting for the occasion, the Deputy Secretary also reflected on FSM’s citizens’ continuing enlistment into the US Armed forces and affirmed that the FSM continue to be proud of their service and for their sacrifices and contributions to combating injustice and in expanding the benefits of democracy and rule of law around the globe. A wreath-laying ceremony for participants of the JCM was held to honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.
Among others, some of the issues that were discussed included efforts to improve and strengthen maritime security, updates on the enlistment of FSM citizens into the US Armed Forces, updates on the current works of the FSM Transnational Crime Unit (TCU), and works on efforts to implement projects under the HA-FSM and the Civic Construction Action Detail (CCAD) programs. For the former, the upcoming project to renovate the Pohnpei State Correctional Facility under the HA-FSM program was discussed. Highlights on successes of recent engagements with the US Coast Guard were reported, as well as updates on the ongoing military build-up in Guam and the recently Pacific Partnership Mission held in the FSM last summer. As part of the report of the Mission, Mrs. Bernolina Hedson, Nurse/Midwife of Pohnpei State Hospital, and Mr. Benito Cantero of the FSM Department of Health and Social Affairs also reported on respective experience and success stories of the Mission, with affirmation of the immense contribution of the Mission to local capacity-building. For the first time in the JCM process, the issue of veteran’s benefits was also discussed.
With the Deputy Secretary was Acting Secretary Clayton Lawrence of the Department of Justice, FSM Ambassador to Washington D.C. Asterio Takesy, FSM Consul General in Guam Robert Ruecho, FSM Consul General in Hawaii Kandhi Elieisar and other national officials. The Governor of the State of Pohnpei, T.H. Marcelo Peterson was also in attendance along with other state officials. Heading the US delegation was Her Excellency Ambassador Doria Rosen and Rear Admiral Bette Bolivar, Commander of the Joint Region Marianas and US Defense Representative to the FSM, and other supporting delegates.