Sun, Jul 11, 2004 - Page 1 News List

Su Tseng-chang returns from secret trip


Secretary-General of the Presiden-tial Office Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) returned from a one-day secret visit to the Philippines yesterday, but refused to publicly comment on his trip.

"Taiwan's efforts to make friends with other countries is under severe pressures [due to China's obstacles] and there are so many people, even inside our country, who go all out to ruin the possibility of the government expanding Taiwan's space in the international community," Su told Taipei Times last night.

"Therefore, I did my best to achieve my mission but I have no right to reveal anything," he said, adding that he is learning to enjoy being a lonely person.

Su, serving as the special representative of President Chen Shui-bain (陳水扁), left for Manila on Friday at the head of a small delegation that included officials from the National Security Council and the Council of Labor Affairs Chairwoman Chen Chu (陳菊).

The group returned to Taipei yesterday afternoon. According to a source, Su was assigned to convey Chen's congratulations to newly elected President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and, "Su did meet the top-ranking people he expected to meet."

"I can neither confirm nor comment upon your description," Su told the Taipei Times.

Presidential Office spokesman Chen Wen-chung (陳文宗) also declined to comment on Su's trip.

The Chinese Commercial News, a Chinese-language daily in Manila, reported yesterday that Su had arrived in Manila at the head of a seven-member delegation to seek possible channels for a visit by Chen to the Philippines.

The newspaper also quoted a spokesman for the Philippine Presidential Office as saying that it had no information on a visit by Su.

According to a government source in Taipei, Chen is scheduled to make his fifth state visit late next month, primarily to attend the inauguration ceremony of Panama's new president on Sept. 1.

Earlier this month, Chen pro-mised that he would visit Africa at least twice during his second term. He has traveled to all seven of Taiwan's allies in Africa during two previous state visits.

According to the source, the Presidential Office tried to arrange a stopover last year for Chen in countries that do not have official ties with Taipei, such as South Africa and Jordan, but the effort failed due to China's pressure on both countries.

In other diplomatic developments, Su was at CKS International Airport last night to greet Singaporean Deputy Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (李顯龍). Lee will be meeting with President Chen during a visit to Taipei that was kept a secret until late last night.

Lee, son of Singapore's founding father Lee Kuan Yew (李光耀), also serves as finance minister and central bank chief. He is widely expected to take over as prime minister next month.

additional reporting by Joy Su

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