Sun, Feb 17, 2013 - Page 1 News List

Ma planning state visit to allied Caribbean nations

THREE ‘SAINTS’:Ma is to visit three allies he did not visit in his first term, while preparations start for the recommencement of talks on TIFA and other pacts

By Jake Chung  /  Staff writer, with CNA

A rehearsal for the annual Spring Banquet for the diplomatic corps in Taiwan scheduled for Wednesday is staged yesterday at the Taipei National University of the Arts.

Photo: CNA

President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) plans to visit Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and the Federation of Saint Christopher and Nevis, although no clear schedule has yet been set, Minister of Foreign Affairs David Lin (林永樂) said yesterday.

Lin’s comments came in response to media reports that Ma had expressed a willingness to visit the three countries — all of which recognize Taiwan as a diplomatic ally — because he had not visited them in his first term.

Lin said the visit aimed to bolster both relations and trade with the allies.

Commenting on the the Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) Cabinet that is soon to take office, Lin said that the ministry looked forward to working with the Executive Yuan and seeking to bolster economic ties with other important trading partners.

Pointing to signs that talks on the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) between the US and Taiwan were soon to recommence, Lin said that the ministry and the Executive Yuan must work together on the details.

Lin also said that the ministry hoped to cement ties with other trading partners, such as Japan, South Korea the EU and ASEAN by entering into talks on regional free-trade agreements, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

Meanwhile, the ministry’s annual New Year’s banquet — to which the ministry extended invitations to all foreign representatives in Taiwan — would for the first time feature foreign representatives in Taiwan and their families singing, dancing and playing musical instruments to showcase their talents.

Among the envoys to perform at the Spring Banquet in Taipei this year is Levente Szekely, Hungaria’s representative to Taiwan, who will perform traditional Hungarian music on the violin, while his wife Hedi Sztano Szekelyne will perform a Hungarian “bottle dance.”

Ambassadors of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Republic of Nauru, the Solomon Islands, and the Kingdom of Swaziland will also showcase traditional dances, including one of the Pacific haka dances.

In addition, Jacques Y. Sawadogo, ambassador of Burkina Faso and dean of the foreign diplomatic corps, will sing the popular Chinese love song The Moon Represents My Heart (月亮代表我的心), made famous by the late Taiwanese singer Teresa Teng (鄧麗君).

“It is the first time in my life I will sing in pubic,” said Sawadogo, who has been based in Taiwan for more than a decade. “It is not easy, but we are trying our best to do something.”

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