5 Sep 2002

Marshall Islands/US finance talks near completion

9:46 am on 5 September 2002

Marshall islands negotiators say they will be ready to sign a new 20 year funding package with the United States next month.

The deal, which will inject at least 818 million US dollars to the Marshall Islands through to the year 2023, could also include an extension to American use of the key missile defence test site at Kwajalein Atoll for an additional 50 years.

The United States is is proposing 40 point nine million dollars annually in grants and trust fund contributions, while the Marshall islands wants 48 million.

The Marshall Islands is seeking an increase in Kwajalein rental payments and also wants to increase the level of taxes levied on American workers at the base.

The Marshall Islands chief negotiator, Robert Muller, says there are currently only two major outstanding points of contention - one connected with inflation, the other with retention of US disaster assistance support