Fri, Aug 22, 2003 - Page 1 News List

Chen cements ties with diplomatic allies

FORGING BONDS The joint communique says the Republic of China will continue to promote friendly relations with its Central American and Caribbean allies, as the region's representatives urged cooperation

By Chang Yun-Ping  /  STAFF REPORTER

President Chen Shui-bian, left, makes a toast to Panama President Mireya Moscoso, El Salvador President Francisco Flores, Nicaragua President Enrique Bolanos, and secretary-general to the president of the Dominican Republic Sergio Grullon, left to right, after signing a joint communique at the fourth Republic of China-Central America Summit meeting.

PHOTO: CHIANG YING-YING, TAIPEI TIMES

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) yesterday signed a joint communique with representatives of Taiwan's Central American and Caribbean diplomatic allies to foster economic ties and recognize support for the nation's participation in international organizations.

The communique stated that the Republic of China will continue to promote friendly cooperation and exchanges with its diplomatic allies in Central America and the Caribbean, who in turn urged Taiwan to reinforce cooperation and economic assistance.

The one-day summit was attended by Chen, Panamanian President Mireya Moscoso, El Salvadorian President Francisco Guillermo Flores, Guatemalan President Alfonso Antonio Portillo, Nicaraguan President Enrique Bolanos, Costa Rican President Abel Pacheco, Honduran Vice President Jose Alberto Diaz, Belize Prime Minister Joan Musa and Sergio Grullon Estrella, secretary-general of the Presidential Office of the Dominican Republic.

The eight representatives commended Taiwan's efforts in reinforcing regional integration and sustainable development through the System for Integration in Central America (SICA) and extended their support for Taiwan's inclusion in the system as a formal member, the communique said.

SICA was established in 1993 and Taiwan is an extra-regional observer.

Chen said, "It is the government's goal to become a member of SICA as Taiwan's democratic and economic developments could provide substantial contributions to the system."

Chen also said the government would continue to offer economic assistance to its diplomatic allies within its financial capabilities.

During discussions on global security, the joint communique yesterday condemned the bombing of the UN's headquarters in Iraq and affirmed joint efforts to combat global terrorism.

Chen yesterday said that, although Taiwan is not a member of the UN, it is willing to comply with the UN's anti-terrorism Resolution No. 1373 and make global security a government priority.

Meanwhile, Chen yesterday signed a free-trade agreement (FTA) with Moscoso, the first FTA Taiwan has signed.

Aside from bolstering trade relations, the visiting delegates yesterday reiterated their support for Taiwan's participation in international organizations, especially Taiwan's appeal to join the World Health Organization.

Musa yesterday commended Taiwan's plans to hold a referendum to decide major public policies, saying it is a solid demonstration of the public's political participation and will reinforce democratic developments in Taiwan.

Portillo yesterday said it is important that, in the age of globalization, small countries ally with each other.

"Taiwan's efforts to strive for dignity in the international community is a good role model for all of us in boosting international participation and cooperation," Portillo said.

The summit started with discussions on the current state of affairs of Taiwan, before moving on to reports on SICA, global security issues and bilateral tourism as well as investment development.

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