U.S. aims for over $7 billion in aid for 20-year Pacific islands compacts
US President Joe Biden's administration is seeking more than $7 billion over the next two decades for economic assistance to three Pacific island countries, a State Department official said on Thursday, Azernews reports citing Reuters.
Washington said earlier this year it had reached consensus with the Marshall Islands, Palau and the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) on terms of U.S. economic assistance in talks to renew Compacts of Free Association, or COFAs, but had not provided details.
Under those pacts, first agreed in the 1980s, the United States retains responsibility for the islands' defense and exclusive access to huge swaths of the Pacific. Current COFA provisions expire in 2024 for Palau, and later in 2023 for the Marshall Islands and the FSM.
Jane Bocklage, a senior State Department official involved in COFA talks, told a congressional hearing the Biden administration's fiscal year 2024 budget request included $7.1 billion over 20 years for extended COFA deals. That included $6.5 billion in direct economic assistance and $634 million for the unfunded costs of extending the U.S. Postal Service in the three island countries, she said.
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