23 Apr 2004

Missile base row won't hit US link, say Marshall Islands

11:22 am on 23 April 2004

Marshall Islands and US government leaders say opposition by landowners to a new agreement for long-term use of the missile testing range on Kwajalein will not delay implementation of the renewal of the Compact of Free Association.

The Compact provides the Marshall Islands with close to one billion US dollars in grants and trust funds through to 2023.

However, the Kwajalein landowners have rejected an American offer of a 15 million dollar a year rental for the missile site, demanding that it be increased to 19 point one million.

They say if their demand is not met they will not approve an extension of the present lease agreement beyond its 2016 expiry date.

The new Compact gives the United States use of the base until 2066.

Talks between the landowners and the Marshall Islands government are to go on.