Thu, Jul 17, 2003 - Page 1 News List

Wu plans to deliver letter to pope

EUROPEAN TRIP The first lady will deliver a letter from President Chen Shui-bian to Pope John Paul II asking him to bless people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait

By Lin Chieh-yu  /  STAFF REPORTER IN BERLIN

First lady Wu Shu-chen (吳淑珍) will personally deliver a letter from President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) to Pope John Paul II on Sunday during her one-week trip to Europe, a Presidential Office source told the Taipei Times.

The letter, based on the theme of peace, is expected to ask the pope to bless people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait as well as to pray for lasting peace.

The source said the letter will state Taiwan's sincerity in providing assistance to the international community and devotion to humanitarian activity, as well as state the nation's desire to contribute to postwar relief efforts in Iraq.

Leaving Taiwan on Tuesday at midnight by China Airlines, the first lady and her delegation arrived at Frankfurt at 9am yesterday after a 13-hour flight.

Taiwan's representative to Germany Hu Wei-jen (胡為真) and his wife yesterday went to the airport to greet Wu and her delegation. Later the group traveled on flight PTI433 to Berlin's Tempelhof Airport and then drove directly to Hotel Adlon Kempinski. The hotel gave the group a red-carpet welcome and a few dozen overseas Taiwanese greeted the first lady with flowers.

"The first lady is in good condition, and she is looking forward to her visit. She had been resting while on board," Presidential Office spokesman James Huang (黃志芳) said. Huang is part of the delegation traveling with Wu.

"While at the CKS Airport on Tuesday night, President Chen reminded me to `take good care of my A-Chen [Wu]' and I immediately felt pressured," Huang said.

When Wu visited the US last year, she suffered from a busy schedule. Since airport security was tightened after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Wu was burdened with unnecessary checks at US customs. Her health condition was affected and she had to go to hospital for emergency treatment at one point, attracting attention from the media.

The Presidential Office also confirmed that it had originally planned to arrange for Wu to visit Austria, but decided in favor of a simpler schedule due to concerns over the first lady's health.

Meanwhile, Joseph Wu (吳釗燮), deputy secretary-general of the Presidential Office, said that although the German government wants the first lady to keep a low profile during her visit, Taiwanese diplomats were working hard to allow her to give more public speeches.

Wu Shu-chen plans to give a speech at the VIP night hosted by National Palace Museum curator Tu Sheng-cheng (杜勝正) tomorrow. She is expected to laud Taiwan's democratic achievements and elaborate on the political situation since the transfer of power in an effort to improve European media's knowledge of the country, Joseph Wu said.

The first lady will base her speech on the theme of pluralistic cultures and a tolerant spirit, telling the story of Taiwan's democratic development over the past few decades, Joseph Wu said.

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