Message to the Congress Transmitting Proposed Legislation To Approve the Compact of Free Association With Palau

April 9, 1986

To the Congress of the United States:

There is enclosed a draft of a Joint Resolution to approve the ``Compact of Free Association,'' the negotiated instrument setting forth the future political relationship between the United States and Palau, a political jurisdiction of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands.

This Compact of Free Association is the result of more than sixteen years of continuous and comprehensive negotiations, spanning the administrations of four Presidents. The transmission of the proposed Joint Resolution today, and congressional enactment of it, marks the last step in the process for approval of the Compact.

The full text of the Compact is part of the draft Joint Resolution, which I request be introduced, referred to the appropriate committees, and enacted. I also request that the Congress note the agreements subsidiary to the Compact. Also enclosed is a section-by-section analysis to facilitate your consideration of the Compact.

On March 30, 1984, and again on February 20, 1985, I submitted to Congress a Compact of Free Association relating to the Marshall Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia, two other jurisdictions of the Trust Territory. That Compact was approved as House Joint Resolution 187 by Congress on December 13, 1985, and with my signature on January 14, 1986, became Public Law 99 - 239. The people of the fourth jurisdiction of the Trust Territory -- the Northern Mariana Islands -- have voted to become a United States territory when the Trusteeship is terminated. The Congress approved their political status instrument as Public Law 94 - 241.

The defense and land use provisions of the Compact with Palau, and the right of the United States to foreclose access to the area for military purposes of third countries, are of great importance to our strategic position in the Pacific and enable us to continue preserving regional security and peace. Under the Palau Compact, the minimum term of United States defense authority and responsibility will be fifty years; otherwise, the Palau Compact is very similar to the Compact that the Congress approved for the Marshall Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia.

For almost four decades, the Trust Territory has been administered under a Trusteeship Agreement with the United Nations Security Council, which the United States entered into pursuant to the Joint Resolution of July 18, 1947. This Compact of Free Association with the government of Palau fulfills our commitment under that Agreement to bring about self-government in accordance with the freely expressed wishes of the Palauan people. Termination of the Trusteeship Agreement and the formal assumption of freely chosen political status arrangements by all parts of the present Trust Territory are important foreign policy objectives of the United States.

The Compact with Palau was signed for the United States by Ambassador Fred M. Zeder II and the President of the Republic of Palau on January 10, 1986. It was approved on January 24, 1986, by both houses of the Palau National Congress. On February 21, 1986, the Compact was approved by the Palauan people in a United Nations observed plebiscite. The President of Palau has certified that the approval process has been completed in full compliance with Palau's constitutional requirements.

Enactment of this draft Joint Resolution approving the Compact of Free Association for Palau will complete the enterprise of self-government we began with the peoples of the Trust Territory many years ago. It is the final step preceding full termination of the Trusteeship Agreement. Therefore, I urge the Congress to approve the Compact of Free Association for Palau.

Ronald Reagan

The White House,

April 9, 1986.