ON its eighth try, Palau, a tiny South Pacific archipelago, voted to approve self-rule and to set up a political, economic, and military pact with the United States.
Palau is the last remaining trust territory set up by the United Nations after World War II. As the island's trustee, the US has overseen its affairs.
Seven earlier plebiscites failed to achieve the constitutionally mandated 75 percent needed to approve the proposed Compact of Free Association. The Compact gives this collection of 200 volcanic islands 480 miles east of the Philippines some $450 million in economic aid as well as self-rule. Under the pact, the US becomes responsible for Palau's defense, and will have access to lands for military purposes in a crisis and permission to open two bases.
The US would also clean up nuclear or toxic accidents in the waters of the archipelago. Materials for nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons would be prohibited.