Mon, May 08, 2006 - Page 1 News List

Chen won't blame US for travel woes

PARAGUAY PLEASED The president and his host signed a communique on Saturday and visited a housing complex that was built with Taiwanese funds

STAFF WRITER , WITH CNA

Paraguayan people from ``New Horizon,'' a housing project developed with Taiwanese funds, salute President Chen Shui-bian and Paraguayan President Nicanor Duarte Frutos during the two leaders' visit to Coronel Oviedo on Saturday.

PHOTO: AP

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) said in Paraguay yesterday that although the US transit arrangements for him during his current Latin America visit are not quite satisfactory, he would not blame "our good friend the United States."

During an interview with three major Paraguayan media outlets, Chen said that he is not completely pleased with the US arrangements and decisions on the transit stops, but added that he would hate to make Washington's life difficult because of this matter.

He said the latest case was a "particular development under particular circumstances," adding that he hopes it will not serve as a precedent for Washington in making stopover arrangements for Taiwan's head of state.

He said the US government faces many thorny global issues, such as problems with North Korea and Iran, and pointed out that Washington particularly needs China's support at the UN, where debates on the Iranian nuclear issue are scheduled for tomorrow.

Meanwhile, Minister of Foreign Affairs James Huang (黃志芳) said yesterday that "the plan" was for Chen to make a transit stop in the US, but Chen told reporters that he had a "back-up plan."

Chen is scheduled to attend the inaugural ceremony of Costa Rican President Oscar Arias today and return to Taipei on Thursday.

Chen said it is a great pity that China has taken advantage of a complicated international situation to conduct "political blackmail" and has relentlessly suppressed Taiwan in the international community.

He stressed that despite China's persistent containment efforts against Taiwan, the nation must "stand up and march forward" courageously, adding that "putting up with some inconvenience is alright for the sake of defending the nation's dignity."

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs reportedly had asked that Chen be allowed to transit through New York or San Francisco. However, the US only offered Anchorage, Alaska, and Honolulu, Hawaii, as transit locations.

The US offer was rejected and, as a result, Chen and his entourage arrived in Paraguay last Friday after a 37-hour flight that took them to Abu Dhabi and Amsterdam for refueling.

On Saturday, Chen and Paraguayan President Nicanor Duarte Frutos presided over a ceremony to mark the completion of a Taiwan-funded housing project for disadvantaged people in Coronel Ovieda, Duarte's hometown.

The Paraguayan leader also held a banquet for Chen and his entourage at his residence, after which Chen met with Vice President Luis Castiglioni and signed a communique with Duarte.

Duarte also invited Taiwan to cooperate with Paraguay to explore Paraguay's Chaco region for oil.

He said that the region is home to rich deposits of fossil fuels, but that explorers must drill to a depth of 5,000m to access them.

That would require tremendous investment, Duarte said, adding that he hoped the two nations could pool their resources in undertaking such an exploration and profit from the finds together.

Huang said that Paraguay and Taiwan had discussed the offer in the past, and that state-run Chinese Petroleum Corp had already sent scientists to Chaco to conduct an assessment.

Whether or not the project will go through is for the company to decide, Huang said.

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