Majuro, Marshall Islands -- In response to a query from the Journal, President Kessai Note explained his relationship with Rev. Sun Myung Moon, expanding on comments that he made at the Nitijela earlier this month.
"The RMI government has no formal relations with Reverend Moon or any of his organizations," Note said. "I agreed to co-host the recent regional conference sponsored by the International Inter-religious Federation for World Peace (IIFWP) because I firmly believe that any meeting at which the subject of world peace, education, family life and other moral issues are discussed is a worthwhile undertaking.
"The other factor in my decision to co-host this regional conference was purely economics. As indicated earlier, the RMI government is actively engaged in lobbying to bring regional meetings to Majuro. Like peace loving people the world over, Reverend Moon and his organization have committed to work toward achieving global peace and bring about stronger family harmony."
The President said that for the Marshall Islands, global peace and security "has a special significance and meaning in that we, the Marshallese people sacrificed heavily and paid a high price for international peace through the U.S. nuclear testing program and the use of our islands for military purposes. Today, we are still experiencing the horrors of this sacrifice."
Commenting on Rev. Moon's promise of $1 million for a new high school in the Marshall Islands, Note said: "I strongly feel that any philanthropist individual or organization that should on its own volition decide to donate funds and or services for the public good should be encouraged to do so."
In comments on the Nitijela floor earlier this session, Note also stressed the constitution's provision of freedom of religion. He noted that he was a Protestant and his wife a Catholic. But, he said, just because of his association with Rev. Moon didn't mean that he was changing his religious beliefs.
Moreover, he said that a few years ago, he attended the opening of the Mormon Church in Rita, which drew some criticism at the time. But now the Mormon Church is an accepted religious group in the Marshalls.
He emphasized people's freedom of religion in his comments to the Nitijela, and reiterated that his relationship with Moon was personal and not government-based