05 DECEMBER 2008 TARAWA (Pacnews)
The United States Government says a maritime surveillance agreement with Kiribati will benefit the US as well as the Pacific island nation, reports Radio Australia
The agreement allows U.S patrol boats in Kiribati waters, while Kiribati law enforcement officers would be allowed onboard to deal with any illegal activity.
Currently Kiribati has just one vessel to respond to reports from local or Australian and New Zealand sources, a difficult task in 3.5 million square kilometres of ocean.
It has welcomed the joint surveillance agreement, saying it would help Kiribati better protect its maritime resources.
US coast guard spokeswoman, Caroyn Ridderman, said the arrangement would also benefit the U.S.
“The Pacific Ocean is so vast and the US has a number of exclusive economic zones in this region,” she said.
“As well and so for maritime security reasons, environmental protection reasons, and for maritime law enforcement, working with other countries in the Pacific Islands, or in the Pacific island region, helps us improve all of those situations for them and for us.”…..PNS (ENDS)