Mon, Dec 20, 2004 - Page 1 News List

Ties with Grenada look tenuous

DIPLOMACY Grenada's leader suggested it was in his country's best interests to establish ties with China, while MOFA said it is waiting for official word

By Melody Chen  /  STAFF REPORTER , WITH AP

Grenada, which used to be a staunch ally of Taiwan, may switch its allegiance to China after its prime minister, Keith Mitchell, wrapped up a trip to Beijing to discuss establishing diplomatic ties, media reports said yesterday.

"The prime minister has not formally announced the decision. He only talked to the media regarding the possibility of establishing official relations with China. Mr. Mitchell is due to give a televised speech on Monday [today]. We will wait to see what he is going to say," said Michel Lu (呂慶龍), spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

After returning from an unprecedented trip to China, the prime minister suggested it would be in Grenada's best interest to establish diplomatic ties with Beijing -- a move that would require severing its long-standing relationship with rival Taiwan.

But Mitchell did not specify whether he had reached any agreements with the Chinese government during his visit last week to seek aid for hurricane relief and economic development.

"We had extensive discussions on economic and bilateral relations, and therefore we have reached some decisions as far as the future of our country is concerned," Mitchell said after returning on Friday.

"The world is changing and changing very fast. China is going to be a powerful economic country in every respect and we have to recognize this, and therefore we have to establish some form of contact."

The prime minister said he would discuss the details of his trip in an address to the nation today.

China said on Tuesday it would be happy to see Grenada sever ties with Taiwan, which offered millions of dollars in aid after Hurricane Ivan hammered the Caribbean country in September.

Mitchell met with Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing (李肇星) and other Chinese officials -- unusually high-level hospitality for a leader whose government isn't recognized by Beijing.

Taiwanese officials said before Mitchell's trip there they were watching closely and would try to convince Grenada that maintaining relations with Taipei was the best choice.

"Taiwan has provided us with enormous support in the past," Mitchell said.

"Clearly anything we intend to do, we will certainly let them know about," he said.

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