|For Immediate Release||November 23, 1998|
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much, Governor and Geri. Ladies andgentlemen, I'm delighted to be here. I want to begin by thanking Dan andEhlysafor their wonderful art work and all the other children who gave me this.Iwill read this on the way home and treasure it always.
I'd like to thank Congressman Underwood for joining us and forjoiningus on the long trip to Japan and Korea we have just taken, along withSenatorBaucus and Congressman Pomeroy and Congressman Abercrombie. I'd like tothankthe Lt. Governor -- Lt. Governor Bordallo, who is, I believe, now thelongestserving member of the Democratic National Committee. We thank her for herservice. (Applause.)
Governor Gutierrez has been a good friend of mine and a greatadvocatefor the people of Guam. He and Congressman Underwood I think clearly givethisisland the most forceful, clear and detailed advocacy that it has probablyeverhad. And I thank him for inviting me here. I promised him I would comeand I'monly sorry it took me so long to keep my word. I can tell you know, justlooking out at this view behind you, I don't want to leave. And I'm trying tothink of some reason to stay. (Applause.)
I'd also like to say a particular word of appreciation to theleaders ofso many islands who have joined us today -- Governor and Mrs. Tenorio oftheNorthern Marianas; Governor Sunia of Samoa; the Presidents of the sovereignstates of Micronesia who are freely associated with the United States --President Nakamura of the Republic of Palau; President Kibua of theMarshallIsland of Atolls; President Nena of the FederatedStates of Micronesia who is joined by the governors of his states. Let'sgivethem all a big hand. I am delighted that they are here today. (Applause.)
As I said, I have been invited here several times by the Governorandthe Congressman. Three years ago, Hillary had a chance to come here to see thebeauty, to experience the hospitality, to learn about the culture. Shetold meand has told me regularly for the last three years that I needed to come toGuam. So now that I have satisfied all of my friends and my wife --(laughter)-- I can only say that it obviously took me too long to make the decision. I amhonored to be here.
I know why so many call this part of the world "Paradise." Youhavesome of the most important coral reef systems anywhere in the world. And I wantto commend you for your stewardship of these reefs and for creating fivenewmarine reserves. I want to invite Governor Gutierrez as well as GovernorSuniaand Tenorio to serve on America's Coral Reef Task Force -- part of oureffortsto preserve the quality of the oceans, the marine biology, and the purityof theoceans. It's a big, big challenge throughout the world today. And I knowtheseGovernors will serve and serve with distinction. I will also ask theCongressto support your efforts to preserve these environmental treasures.
The world admired your remarkable recovery from the record highwinds ofTyphoon Paka last December. I want to commend your courage and resilience. Theworld was also grateful for Guam's heroic response to the tragic crash oftheKorean airliner in August of 1997. I'll never forget the conversations Ihad onthe telephone with the Governor during that difficult period.
Later today I'm going to have a chance to speak about theimportanceplace Guam holds in American history, in America's family and in America'sfuture. I want to offer some more proposals to strengthen Guam and thepeopleof this island for the 21st century. But since the other leaders of otherPacific islands are here with us today, I'd like to ask you to give me just afew minutes before I come out into the crowd here and shake hands to talkaboutthe future of America's overall role in this part of the world.
I know Governor Tenorio, I have known him from the time we servedasgovernors. I know that we'll have a chance to talk about important issuesinour relationship. The last time I saw Governor Sunia he invited me tovisit hisisland, our southernmost territory, in connection with the centennial oftheirrelationship with the United States in the year 2000.Since that will be the first election year in a long time I won't be on theballot, I'm going to try to take him up on thatinvitation. I hope I can do so. (Laughter and applause.)
For years, our nation has enjoyed a close, unique and mutuallybeneficial partnership with the Freely Associated States. The compacts offreeassociation have enabled us to work together to preserve peace, to fostereconomic development across more than a million square miles of thePacific. Itis a relationship the United States takes very seriously.
Recently, I signed Congressman Underwood's bills guaranteeing theeligibility of students from the Freely Associated States for Pell grantsandextended food aid to residents of the Marshall Islands who were harmed byU.S.nuclear testing during the Cold War. I'm happy to announce that we willfulfillthe final commitment made in our compact with Palau; we're allocating $150million to build a 53-mile road to help you open your largest island,Babeldaob.
In less than three years, important provisions of our compacts with theMarshall Islands in the federated states will expire. It's in our mutualinterest to maintain and strengthen our ties in the new century. TheUnitedStates hopes to begin formal negotiations soon so we can renew theseprovisionsno later than next October.
Earlier this year I had a chance -- (applause) -- thank you, that'sgood. (Laughter.) We have isolated applause here, depending on what I'msaying. (Laughter.)
Earlier this year I had a chance to speak with President Nena attheopening of U.N. General Assembly in New York. The First Lady met withPresidentNakamura in Washington. I understand the challenges that you're facing inbuilding your economies. I want to encourage all the Presidents of theFreelyAssociated States to continue their effort to promote growth, reform, andgoodgovernment. And the United States will remain a partner in all theseefforts.
Again, I am proud to be in Guam at our westernmost boundary. Those anold Chamorro proverb, "Our heritage gives life to our spirit." I havelearnedfrom every person I have ever met from this part of the world that there is aproud and deep devotion to heritage. I have also sensed a very greatspirit.
We have much to give one another, much to learn from one another.Letus resolve to preserve all of our various heritages and our strong spirits, andwalk together into the 21stcentury. Thank you, and God bless you all. (Applause.)
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