Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III underscored the close ties between the U.S. and Micronesia as he met today with Micronesian President Wesley Simina. 

Austin welcomed Simina to the Pentagon following the recent renewal of the Compacts of Free Association, or COFA, which establish defense and economic ties between three Pacific Island nations: Micronesia, the Marshall Islands and Palau. 

Under the renewed agreement, the U.S. will extend defense and economic support to the three nations, known collectively as the Freely Associated States, into the 2040s. 

“Renewing the compacts was a landmark achievement, and it will help advance our shared vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific,” Austin said.  

“The compacts ensure that the United States can maintain a military presence in the Freely Associated States. That presence helps secure a vital and vast part of the Indo-Pacific, an area that’s larger than the continental United States.” 

The compacts, which were first adopted in the mid-1980s by the U.S., the Marshall Islands and Micronesia and later joined by Palau in the 1990s, provide for U.S. military defense of the three nations.  

The compacts also permit citizens of the Freely Associated States to serve in the U.S. military.  

“We’re grateful for the military service of your country’s citizens, Mr. President,” Austin said today. “And we’re proud to serve shoulder to shoulder with you.” 

Since taking office, Austin has worked extensively to further strengthen U.S. partnerships across the Pacific Island region.  

Austin met with the presidents of the Freely Associated States nations of Palau and the Marshall Islands in 2021 and 2022, respectively. 

Simina underscored the shared values between his country and the U.S. that serve as the foundation for lasting ties.  

“Our friendship is one based on shared democratic principles and values – peace, unity and freedom,” he said. “In these highest of pursuits, our people have stood shoulder to shoulder.” 

Through these shared bonds, Simina said, the two nations will remain close partners for many decades to come.  

Ahead of their talks, Austin previewed discussions ranging from new opportunities for defense cooperation between the two countries and opportunities to enhance military exercises.

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