FSM-U.S. High-Level Defense & Security Talks Conclude; Actions Taken, Commitments Made, Essential to FSM & Indo-Pacific Security

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Press Release

FSM-U.S. High-Level Defense & Security Talks Conclude; Actions Taken, Commitments Made, Essential to FSM & Indo-Pacific Security


HONOLULU, Hawaii—The High-Level Defense Talks between the Government of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) and the United States of America (USA), which began on or around July 15th, 2021, concluded on or around July 26th, 2021, with the actions taken as a result of the talks, and the commitments made by both the FSM National Government and the U.S. Government, essential for FSM and Indo-Pacific security.


“With what we’ve learned whilst we’ve been in Hawaii—what we’ve since taken action on, and made commitments on,” His Excellency David W. Panuelo, President of the FSM, said in a statement, “What it all means is that Micronesians and Americans alike can sleep better, confident that the FSM-US Enduring Partnership is stronger than it has ever been, and that U.S. commitment to our Nation’s security manifests in many forms, such as Climate Change mitigation and adaptation efforts through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and U.S. Coast Guard Search & Rescue operations, law enforcement training, and more.”


When prodded for clarification, the President said “Perhaps I can paint an example of the occasional necessity of opacity—that is, the opposite of transparency—as it relates to our broader national security and defense umbrella with the United States, by way of describing a recent drug seizure in the FSM. A few months ago, a package was sent to the National Government from or around the U.S. Pacific Northwest. The sender wrote ‘Customs Shirts’ on the box, which our Customs Officers interpreted to mean were the new uniforms they ordered from abroad. Interestingly, when the box was opened, as in fact every item shipped from abroad the Government has the right and power to inspect, the box was full of marijuana, and the criminals’ intent to circumvent drug trafficking laws by declaring they were sending shirts is what got themselves caught.”


“It’s a funny story,” President Panuelo continued, “But by saying it out loud, by announcing this story in a press release, we’ve also alerted the people who committed that crime that the Government is aware of their actions, which could change their behavior in the future. We’ve already taken the appropriate action for this specific scenario, but the main idea still stands. When it comes to conventional security threats, such as illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing, the security interest of not saying where the boats conducting [IUU] are in the short-term outweighs the public interest of knowing how the Government is protecting them from the threat. We can’t catch them if we tell the public that we know where they are and we know who they are, and by the way, here’s their specific location right now.”



The High-Level Defense Talks discussed a wide range of topics in detail and with the aim of openness and frankness. Topics included the United States’ broader defense and force posture in the Pacific; how the United States defends and secures the FSM, ranging from conventional security threats, and non-conventional security threats, such as Climate Change, transnational organized crime, maritime security, including a focus on illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing, and the FSM’s self-identified internal and regional security threats. The FSM and the United States collaborated on plans for more frequent and permanent U.S. Armed Forces presence, and have agreed to cooperate on how that presence will be built up both temporarily and permanently within the FSM, with the purpose of serving the mutual security interests of both nations.


“I would like to express my appreciation to Admiral John C. Aquilino, Commander of U.S. INDO-PACOM, Her Excellency Carmen G. Cantor, Ambassador of the US to the FSM, and all the other men and women who contributed to truly excellent discussions on the FSM’s security,” President Panuelo said. “It’s such a comfort and relief to hear so clearly that the FSM is part of the Pacific Homeland—that is, that the FSM is clearly part of the U.S. homeland defense plans that the United States is poised to defend. I asked the question ‘How will the United States defend the FSM?’—and the answer has never been clearer. The FSM is always so happy to extend peace, friendship, cooperation, and love in our common humanity, and it’s a blessing and privilege to receive peace, friendship, cooperation, and love in our common humanity from our partners in the United States.”


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