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COVID-19 Response, Transport Bubble, Solidarity are Outcomes of Micronesia Presidents Special Meeting in Palau

The Micronesia Presidents Summit(MPS) Special Leaders’ Meeting concluded on October 2 with the President of the Republic of Palau Tommy E. Remengesau, Jr., the President of the Republic of the Marshall Islands David Kabua, and the President of the Republic of Nauru Lionel Aingimea together in the Republic of Palau, and with the President of the Federated States of Micronesia David W. Panuelo and the President of the Republic of Kiribati TanetiMaamau participating virtually.

Major commitments were made on COVID-19 medical and economic response,as stated in the Meeting’s Communiqué, including increasing regional cooperation ontest and vaccine access.

The Presidents also agreed to work on safe air travel in their respective countries and in the sub-region,subject to stringent testing and/or quarantine requirements, as appropriate, to ensure the safety of citizens and residents. The Presidents agreed to put together plans for a quarantine-free “travel/transport bubble” between the 5 COVID-free Member States, withconnections to low-risk jurisdictions outside the bubble, with passengers subject to quarantine upon entry before resuming free travel through the sub-region. Nauru President Lionel Aingimeastrengthened the general discussion by offering the partnership of Nauru Airlines to facilitate air services between Member States.

One productive focus of the 2 day meeting involved the appointment of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretary General. On this topic, the Presidents reiterated their firm commitment to the appointment of Micronesia’s candidate, Ambassador Gerald M. Zackios, in line with the ‘Gentlemen’s Agreement’ for sub-regional rotation. The Presidents agreed that this issue is non-negotiable for all 5 Micronesian nations, and that violation of the “Gentlemen’s Agreement” could result in their withdrawal from the PIF.

[L-R] Presidents Kabua, Remengesau and Aingimea signs the Special MPS Leaders Meeting communique.