Taiwan and Libya will improve bilateral economic exchanges by setting up trade offices and President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) may accept an invitation to visit the north African state in near future, the Presidential Office said yesterday.
Chen yesterday met with the chairman of the Qaddafi Foundation, Saif Qaddafi, the third eldest son of Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi.
Chen said that the visit of Saif Qaddafi to Taiwan as the envoy of the nation's leader was an historic occasion.
Accepting an invitation from Muammar Qaddafi to visit Libya in the future, Chen asked Saif Qaddafi to pass on an invitation to his father, asking him to visit Taiwan.
"Both sides have agreed to set up offices in a bid to promote exchanges in diverse areas such as trade, tourism, aviation, education, culture, military affairs and security issues," Chen said.
Saif Qaddafi said that the delegates accompanying him on this trip are especially interested in promoting exchanges in the fields of oil exploitation, technology, trade, security and military affairs.
"I hope Taiwan and Libya can work together to play an important role in Africa to help people there and also to build good partnerships with other African countries," Saif Qaddafi said.
Officials at the Presidential Office attributed Taiwan's recent good relationship with Libya to the long-term efforts of the National Security Council. Officials stressed that it is important for Taiwan to build good relations with oil-producing countries in both Africa and the Middle East.
According to Presidential Office Deputy Secretary-General James Huang (黃志芳), Libya has managed to normalize its relations with the US since the Sept. 11 attacks by helping to combat global terrorism.
"Libya is one of a handful of countries in Africa with large fuel reserves. Good relations are crucial to us. Besides, Libya has expressed a lot of interest in Taiwan's development experience, especially in the areas of science parks and information technology," Huang said.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesman Michel Lu (呂慶龍) said yesterday that Libya is an important oil-exporting country, and therefore strategically important to Taiwan.
Libya is very keen on further pursuing mutual cooperation with Taiwan on petroleum and high-tech industries, he said.
Taiwan had diplomatic relations with Libya from 1959 to 1978. Taiwan maintained a trade office there from 1980 to 1997 after Libya switched its diplomatic recognition to China. The office was closed in 1997 due to pressure from China.
Additional reporting by Chang Yun-ping