Mon, Jul 06, 2009 - Page 1 News List

Ortega apologizes to Ma over banquet

SNUBNicaraguan President Daniel Ortega said he missed the state banquet on Friday night because he was in discussions with Honduran President Manuel Zelaya

STAFF WRITER, WITH CNA

Jennifer Jeng holds a sign protesting against President Ma Ying-jeou during his stopover in Honolulu, Hawaii, on Saturday.

PHOTO: REUTERS

Taiwan will not recall its ambassador to Nicaragua after President Daniel Ortega, apologized to President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) for his absence at a state banquet held on Friday for Ma, a senior foreign affairs official in Taipei said yesterday.

Ma expressed concern after Ortega did not meet him at the airport when he arrived in Managua on Friday morning and skipped a state banquet he was supposed to host for Ma later the same day, the senior official said.

Diplomatic ties between the two countries will not be affected after Ma accepted Ortega’s explanation for not appearing at the banquet, the senior official said.

Following Ortega’s perceived snubs on Friday, Taiwan demanded a clear apology from the Nicaraguan government and threatened to suspend aid to the country if Ortega did not show up as scheduled to attend a site dedication ceremony for a product display center, a government official said on Saturday in Managua.

After realizing Taipei’s strong feelings on the matter, Ortega headed to the hotel where Ma was staying on Saturday to offer his apologies for not appearing at the banquet.

Ortega said he could not make it because he was in discussions with Honduran President Manuel Zelaya, who was also in Nicaragua at the time, on the emergency situation in the Central American country, the Taiwanese official said.

Ortega said the two spoke all night about the situation before Zelaya flew to Washington, where Zelaya attended an emergency meeting over the Honduran coup held by the Organization of American States, the official said.

Zelaya was ousted in a military coup on June 28 when troops arrested him and sent him into exile in Costa Rica.

Speculation has arisen, however, that Ortega’s absences were in response to attempts by the Ma administration to track remittances by the former Democratic Progressive Party administration to Nicaragua.

Upon his arrival at the hotel, the Nicaraguan president hugged his Taiwanese counterpart and chatted with Ma for 10 minutes, before driving him to a banquet hosted by Taiwan’s expatriate community in the country and then attending the product display center ceremony, the official said.

At the banquet, Ortega gave assurances that Nicaragua would maintain diplomatic ties with Taiwan.

On Friday night, Ambassador to Nicaragua Wu Ching-mu (吳進木) offered to resign from his post to take responsibility for the manner in which Ma had been treated. Ortega also apologized to Wu by hugging him and saying that he should take the blame for causing so much trouble. He also praised Wu for his hard work in arranging Ma’s visit.

Accepting Ortega’s explanation, Ma said he understood the importance of the meeting between Ortega and Zelaya because the coup was closely related to the future of both countries.

In Taipei, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator John Chiang (蔣孝嚴), a former foreign minister, said the president should consider recalling the ambassador to Nicaragua.

“It was very impolite of Ortega not to show up. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs should voice its strongest protest by considering recalling our ambassador to Nicaragua because we cannot compromise the dignity of our nation,” Chiang said.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY FLORA WANG

Also See: Organizations should not exclude Taiwan: Ortega

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