Why the Compacts of Free Association Matter to Washington

Grant Wyeth, The Diplomat

Image by WikiImages from Pixabay
Image by WikiImages from Pixabay

With its eyes on China, the United States seeks to reaffirm its presence in the western Pacific. Last week, virtual meetings were held between officials from the U.S. State Department and representatives of the Federated States of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, and Palau. The meetings were part of the process for renegotiating the Compacts of Free Association that these countries have with the United States, which are currently due to expire at the end of 2023 (2024 for Palau). These treaties provide the Pacific Island nations with considerable economic support, but also give the U.S. strategic access to their surrounding waters and airspace. 



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