GOVERNOR Ralph D.L.G. Torres met with President Donald Trump in the White House, Tuesday afternoon in Washington, D.C., to discuss CNMI economic issues, including the Chinese visa waiver program.
Torres met with Trump at 5:15 p.m., or 7:15 a.m. , Wednesday, Saipan time, at the Oval Office. With the president was his chief of staff, Reinhold Priebus.
“President Trump asked how the economy was in the CNMI,” Torres said, adding that he wanted to meet with the president to seek support for the continued implementation of the Chinese visa waiver program.
Torres also expressed the need for the CW program to continue, adding that an adequate workforce is critical to the economic success of the CNMI. He said President
Trump and Priebus both committed to working with the governor on this crucial program.
“I told the president that there is continued growth and progress in the last few years— and that the economy continues to grow,” Torres said. “I also told him, ‘We need your assistance Mr. President with the Chinese visa waiver program.’ “
According to the governor, President Trump turned to Priebus, and said: “We need to do what we can to continue the economic growth in the CNMI. Take care of my friend.”
Priebus told the president that work has begun to help strengthen the CNMI’s economy, one of whose critical components is the Chinese visa waiver program.
“The president and his chief of staff are both in agreement to help us,” Torres said.
In welcoming Torres to the Oval Office, President Trump noted that the CNMI Republican Torres was the first territorial governor to support and endorse his presidential candidacy.
“This is the first governor to endorse me; he is a long time friend,” Trump said.
Following his meeting with the president, Torres and Priebus proceeded to join Jason Osborne, the governor’s representative in the nation’s capital, who was in a separate meeting with Rick Dearborn, the president’s deputy chief of staff for intergovernmental affairs.
Osborne said Torres’s meeting President Trump is unprecedented. This is the first time that any sitting U.S. president has opened the doors of the Oval Office to a territorial governor, he added.
Osborne said on Wednesday (Thursday, Saipan time), he will meet with Department of Homeland Security and White House senior policy advisors “to reiterate the importance of the Chinese visa waiver program.”
For the past couple of months, the Torres administration, with the assistance of Osborne, has been on an almost “daily discussion” with DHS officials regarding the need for a continuation of the visa waiver program and why it is critical to the survival of the CNMI economy.
At the National Governors Association Winter Meeting in February, the governor talked about the CNMI’s unique situation and why it needs the CW and the Chinese visa waiver programs.
After meeting with the president, Governor Torres met with Department of the Interior Secretary Ryan Zinkie.
“Please tell the President that I am in support of the continuation of the Chinese visa waiver program,” Secretary Zinkie was quoted by the governor as saying during their meeting.
“Today is just an amazing day for us,” Osborne said. “We also met with Interior Secretary Zinkie and he assured us of his support for the CNMI’s initiatives to sustain its growth and development.”
The governor invited the Interior secretary to visit the CNMI. Secretary Zinke accepted and said that his office will work on the details of his visit.
Source: Marianas Variety : http://www.mvariety.com/cnmi/cnmi-news/local/94261-breaking-news-governor-meets-with-president-trump