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US and Palau sign new agreement on maritime security in Pacific.

| 2023

According to information published by the US DoD on August 30, 2023, the United States and the Republic of Palau have signed a bilateral law enforcement agreement focused on maritime security and stewardship in the Pacific.
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Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001 Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) off the coast of Koror, Palau during Pacific Partnership 2022. (Picture source: Dvids)

Andrew J. McLean, U.S. Embassy Koror's Chargé d'Affaires, commented that the agreement would bolster maritime domain awareness and address issues related to Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing within Palau's EEZ.

One notable element of this agreement is the provision allowing the U.S. Coast Guard to operate in Palau's exclusive economic zone (EEZ) without a Palauan officer on board.

This new arrangement draws parallels with previous agreements the U.S. has made with the Federated States of Micronesia in 2022 and with Papua New Guinea in May 2023.

As part of the broader maritime strategy, Operation Rematau, led by the U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia/Sector Guam, focuses on maritime law enforcement collaborations in the Pacific region.


The Compact of Free Association (COFA) between Palau and the United States, which commenced in 1994, is a testament to this relationship's depth. Under COFA, while Palau maintains its sovereignty and governance, the U.S. is responsible for its defense and has the right to military access.

In return, Palau receives financial aid, and its citizens have the privilege to work and study in the U.S. without requiring a visa. The compact is a reflection of the U.S.’s broader strategy to maintain a dominant presence and counterbalance other influential powers in the Pacific.

When viewed against the backdrop of China's and Taiwan's activities in the Pacific, the U.S.-Palau partnership takes on added significance. For Palau, which recognizes Taiwan, the alliance with the U.S. offers a degree of security against any potential pressure or overreach from Mainland China. The U.S., wary of China's growing influence in the region, views its compact with Palau as a key component in its Pacific strategy.

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