24 C
Brunei
Friday, December 2, 2022
24 C
Brunei
Friday, December 2, 2022
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    Pacific nuclear legacy overshadows US talks in Marshall Islands

    MAJURO, MARSHALL ISLANDS (AFP) – Marshall Islands officials said they are ready to resume talks with the United States (US) this week on renewing a long-standing economic and security deal, provided Washington addresses grievances stemming from the testing of nuclear weapons on the Pacific archipelago more than 70 years ago.

    The US detonated 67 nuclear bombs in the Marshall Islands between 1946-58, and the health and environmental impacts are still felt on the islands and atolls that lie between Hawaii and the Philippines.

    US special envoy Joseph Yun is scheduled to land in the capital Majuro tomorrow to resume negotiations on extending the 20-year Compact of Free Association, part of which expires in 2023.

    Marshall Islands negotiators first want the US to pay more of the compensation awarded by the international Nuclear Claims Tribunal, totalling just over USD3 billion, of which around USD270 million has been paid so far.

    Officials in Majuro broke off talks in September to renew the compact, a key international agreement between the US, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia and Palau.

    The Marshall Islands said it would be ready to resume talks with Yun if Washington tackled health and environmental issues stemming from their nuclear testing.

    “We are ready to sign (a Compact extension) tomorrow, once the key issues are addressed,” Parliament Speaker Kenneth Kedi told AFP.

    “We need to come up with a dignified solution,” he said. Kedi represents Rongelap Atoll, which is still affected by nuclear testing.

    He was encouraged by an agreement signed in late September by US President Joe Biden and Pacific island leaders, including Marshall Islands President David Kabua, that included references to the US commitment to addressing its nuclear past.

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