FSM Information Services
President Panuelo Reaffirms Enduring Defense Relationship in Meeting with United States
Secretary of Defense, the Honorable Mark T. Esper, at the Pentagon
WASHINGTON, D.C.—On October 11th, 2019 His Excellency David W. Panuelo, President of the
Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), was received by the Honorable Mark T. Esper, Secretary of
the United States Department of Defense (DOD), in a courtesy call held at the Pentagon. The
purpose of the meeting was to reaffirm the enduring and perpetual defense relationship between the
FSM and the United States as codified through the Compact of Free Association (COFA) and to
seek the DOD’s support as the Nation begins negotiations on the expiring economic provisions of
“Our enduring relationship makes me proud,” President Panuelo began. “We think of [the United
States] as part of our family—and I feel at home when I am here,” the President continued,
describing a visit to John F. Kennedy Eternal Flame at Arlington Cemetery the day prior. The
President described how the DOD plays a vital role in the broader FSM-U.S. relationship.
Secretary Esper asked how the DOD can support the FSM. President Panuelo requested the
support of DOD in the upcoming COFA negotiations, as defense plays a pivotal role in U.S.
Government decision-making. “Our defense relationship [remains intact and perpetual in the
COFA]…it’s the economic provisions that are the focus,” President Panuelo said, highlighting the
benefits of programs like the weather service from the National Oceanic & Atmospheric
Administration and banking protections provided by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation
Secretary Esper advised that, while the DOD would defer to the U.S. Department of State for the
negotiation process proper, that the DOD is supportive of the FSM and the U.S. reaching a
mutually satisfactory and mutually beneficial arrangement.
The Secretary reaffirmed the U.S. Government’s appreciation for the high number of FSM citizens
who serve in the U.S. Armed Forces. In turn, President Panuelo asked for the DOD’s broader
support for the COFA Veterans Review Act—a proposed bill in the U.S. Congress that would
provide benefits to veterans regardless of whether they were living in the U.S. or in the FSM or
other Freely Associated States.
“Makes sense…I would expect the benefits to follow the veterans, not the jurisdiction,” Secretary
Esper said, emphasizing that while DOD would necessarily need to defer to the U.S. Department of
Veterans Affairs and the U.S. Congress that the DOD supports all veterans of the U.S. Armed
The remainder of the meeting discussed issues of mutual interest to the FSM and U.S.
“I have high confidence in you, Secretary,” President Panuelo said. “You have a standing invitation
to come and visit the [FSM] whenever you are able to find an opportunity to do so.”
The FSM National Government is proud of its enduring relationship with the people and
Government United States.
The U.S. Department of Defense Press Release on this meeting is available here: