Tue, Jan 20, 2009 - Page 12 News List

British office chief confident of growing cooperation

STAFF WRITER, WITH CNA

The top British representative in Taiwan said yesterday he was pleased with the progress in bilateral relations during his term in Taiwan and expressed confidence that the two countries would forge even closer links.

Michael Reilly, director of the Taipei-based British Trade and Cultural Office (BTCO), was speaking at a press conference held before he concludes his term in Taiwan. He credited the BTCO staff, whom he described as “very loyal, devoted and hard-working,” with providing help and support that contributed to these achievements.

“I leave Taiwan very pleased with the growth in bilateral links between the UK and Taiwan,” Reilly said, referring to Taiwan’s establishment last year of a UK parliamentary friendship group — the second-largest of its kind.

He said that bilateral contacts had increased, with reciprocal ministerial visits rising over the past few years, adding that he expected this trend to continue.

Reilly said that the UK welcomed Taiwan’s public commitment to cutting its carbon emissions levels, its accession to the WTO’s Government Procurement Agreement and President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) efforts to reduce tensions across the Taiwan Strait.

However, much more remains to be done, Reilly said, urging the Legislative Yuan to facilitate the passage of bills aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions and abolishing the death penalty to demonstrate that Taiwan is a liberal democracy.

As for his successor, who will take over on Feb. 3, Reilly said David Campbell was no stranger to Asia, as he had previous postings in Manila and Singapore.

“I think he is an excellent choice for Taipei. I’m very confident that he will carry on with the work that we have been doing in my time here,” Reilly said.

Describing his service in Taiwan as his most enjoyable ever, Reilly said he would leave this “fascinating country” with good memories and will miss it a lot.

Reilly, who took up his post as BTCO director in December 2005, will officially conclude his term in Taiwan today. He will join a program of the British foreign office to work in the private sector on his return to the UK.

The BTCO functions as the defacto British embassy in Taiwan in the absence of diplomatic relations between Taiwan and the UK.

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