Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper today welcomed President of the Federated States of Micronesia David Panuelo to the Pentagon for bilateral discussions.
"It is a pleasure to welcome you to the Pentagon and meet you for the first time," the secretary told Panuelo. "Thank you very much for coming today."
Esper noted that Panuelo has just arrived from a visit to the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, where he met with officials of the regional combatant command in Hawaii.
"The security relationship between the United States and Micronesia continues to be very close, and I'm hopeful it will get even closer," Esper told him.
"We are very proud of the many Micronesian citizens who serve in the United States military," the secretary said, noting that per capita, it's more than from any other country. "That's remarkable," he added.
Published reports indicate up to 1,500 Micronesian citizens serve in U.S. forces.
"Our partnership has strengthened maritime law enforcement in the Pacific, and we also share similar priorities through the Compact of Free Association, which plays an important role in regional stability," Esper said. The Compact of Free Association is an international agreement establishing and governing the relationships of free association between the United States and the three Pacific Island nations of the Federated States of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands and Palau.
The secretary told Panuelo that he looks forward to discussing the compact's renewal and hearing his perspective on security challenges in the Indo-Pacific region.
Panuelo congratulated Esper on assuming office as defense secretary, and said he is proud of the relationship between the United States and Micronesia, as well as the Micronesian citizens who serve in the U.S. military.
Situated in the western Pacific Ocean, the Micronesia region comprises five sovereign, independent nations — the Federated States of Micronesia, an independent republic associated with the United States.
It consists of four states spread across the western Pacific Ocean. From west to east, they are Yap, Chuuk, Pohnpei and Kosrae. Together, the states encompass more than 600 islands.