[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1998, Book II)]
[November 23, 1998]
[Pages 2081-2083]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

Remarks to Micronesian Island Leaders in Agana Heights, Guam
November 23, 1998

    Thank you very much, Governor and Geri. Ladies and gentlemen, I'm 
delighted to be here. I want to begin by thanking Dan and Ehlysa for 
their wonderful art work, and all the other children who gave me this. I 
will read this on the way home and treasure it always.
    I'd like to thank Congressman Underwood for joining us, and for 
joining us on the long trip to Japan and Korea we have just taken, along 
with Senator Baucus and Congressman Pomeroy and Congressman Abercrombie. 
I'd like to thank the Lieutenant Governor, Lieutenant Governor Bordallo, 
who is, I believe, now the longest serving member of the Democratic 
National Committee. We thank her for her service.
    Governor Gutierrez has been a good friend of mine and a great 
advocate for the people of Guam. He and Congressman Underwood I think 
clearly give this island the most forceful, clear, and detailed advocacy 
that it has probably ever had. And I thank him for inviting me here. I 
promised him I would come, and I'm only sorry it took me so long to keep 
my word. I can tell you now, just looking out at this view behind you, I 
don't want to leave. And I'm trying to think of some reason to stay. 
    I'd also like to say a particular word of appreciation to the 
leaders of so many islands who have joined us today: Governor and Mrs. 
Tenorio of the Northern Marianas; Governor Sunia of Samoa; the 
Presidents of the sovereign states of Micronesia who are freely 
associated with the United States, President Nakamura of the Republic of 
Palau, President Kabua of the Marshall Island Atolls, President Nena of 
the Federated States of Micronesia who is joined by the Governors of his 
States. Let's give them 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 Governor 
and the Congressman. Three years ago, Hillary had a chance to come

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here to see the beauty, to experience the hospitality, to learn about 
the culture. She told me, and has told me regularly for the last 3 
years, that I needed to come to Guam. 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 am honored to be here.
    I know why so many people call this part of the world paradise. You 
have some of the most important coral reef systems anywhere in the 
world. And I want to commend you for your stewardship of these reefs and 
for creating five new marine reserves. I want to invite Governor 
Gutierrez as well as Governors Sunia and Tenorio to serve on America's 
Coral Reef Task Force, part of our efforts to preserve the quality of 
the oceans, the marine biology, and the purity of the oceans. It's a 
big, big challenge throughout the world today. And I know these 
Governors will serve and serve with distinction. I will also ask the 
Congress to support your efforts to preserve these environmental 
    The world admired your remarkable recovery from the record-high 
winds of Typhoon Paka last December. I want to commend your courage and 
resilience. The world was also grateful for Guam's heroic response to 
the tragic crash of the Korean airliner in August of 1997. I'll never 
forget the conversations I had on the telephone with the Governor during 
that difficult period.
    Later today I'm going to have a chance to speak about the important 
place Guam holds in American history, in America's family, and in 
America's future. I want to offer some more proposals to strengthen Guam 
and the people of this island for the 21st century. But since the other 
leaders of other Pacific islands are here with us today, I'd like to ask 
you to give me just a few minutes, before I come out into the crowd here 
and shake hands, to talk about the future of America's overall role in 
this part of the world.
    I know Governor Tenorio; I have known him from the time we served as 
Governors. I know that we'll have a chance to talk about important 
issues in our relationship. The last time I saw Governor Sunia, he 
invited me to visit his island, our southernmost territory, in 
connection with the centennial of their relationship 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 the ballot, I'm going to try to take him up on 
that invitation. I hope I can do so.
    For years, our Nation has enjoyed a close, unique, and mutually 
beneficial partnership with the Freely Associated States. The compacts 
of free association have enabled us to work together to preserve peace, 
to foster economic development across more than a million square miles 
of the Pacific. It is a relationship the United States takes very 
    Recently, I signed Congressman Underwood's bills guaranteeing the 
eligibility of students from the Freely Associated States for Pell 
grants, and extended food aid to residents of the Marshall Islands who 
were harmed by U.S. nuclear testing during the cold war. I'm happy to 
announce that we will fulfill the final commitment made in our compact 
with Palau: We're allocating $150 million to build a 53-mile road to 
help you open your largest island, Babeldoab.
    In less than 3 years, important provisions of our compacts with the 
Marshall Islands and the Federated States will expire. It's in our 
mutual interest to maintain and strengthen our ties in the new century. 
The United States hopes to begin formal negotiations soon so we can 
renew these provisions no later than next October.
    Earlier this year I had a chance--[applause]--thank you, that's 
good. [Laughter] We have isolated applause here, depending on what I'm 
saying. [Laughter]
    Earlier this year I had a chance to speak with President Nena at the 
opening of the U.N. General Assembly in New York. The First Lady met 
with President Nakamura in Washington. I understand the challenges that 
you're facing in building your economies. I want to encourage all the 
Presidents of the Freely Associated States to continue their effort to 
promote growth, reform, and good government. And the United States will 
remain a partner in all these efforts.
    Again, I am proud to be in Guam at our westernmost boundary. There 
is an old Chamorro proverb, ``Our heritage gives life to our spirit.'' I 
have learned from every person I have ever met from this part of the 
world that there is a proud and deep devotion to heritage. I have also 
sensed a very great spirit. We have much to give one another, much to 
learn from one another. Let us resolve to preserve all of our various 
heritages and our strong spirits, and walk together into the 21st 
    Thank you, and God bless you all.

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Note: The President spoke at 1:56 p.m. at the Government House. In his 
remarks, he referred to Gov. Carl T.C. Gutierrez and his wife, 
Geraldine, and Lt. Gov. Madeleine Z. Bordallo of Guam; Dan Macaracy and 
Ehlysa Pablo, students who presented the President with gifts; Gov. 
Pedro P. Tenorio of the Northern Mariana Islands and his wife, Sophia; 
Gov. Tauese P.F. Sunia of American Samoa; and Presidents Kuniwo Nakamura 
of Palau, Imata Kabua of the Marshall Islands, and Jacob Nena of the 
Federated States of Micronesia.