Wed, Mar 13, 2019 - Page 1 News List

President to visit three Pacific allies

SHARED VALUES:Taiwan and its Pacific allies are all democratic island nations, and have a lot in common, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Hsu Szu-chien said

By Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporter

President Tsai Ing-wen, third left, presents an inscribed placard to representatives of the Tian Sheng Temple in Kaohsiung yesterday.

Photo: Su Fu-nan, Taipei Times

President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) is to embark on an eight-day state visit to three of Taiwan’s diplomatic allies in the Pacific next week to exchange experiences about democratization and sustainable development, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday.

Tsai is to leave for Palau on Thursday next week, before heading to Nauru on March 24 and the Marshall Islands on March 26.

She is scheduled to return home on March 28, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Hsu Szu-chien (徐斯儉) told a news conference at the Presidential Office Building in Taipei.

During her trip, Tsai is to meet with Palauan President Tommy Remengesau, Nauruan President Baron Divavesi Waqa and Marshallese President Hilda Heine to exchange opinions on bilateral issues and international affairs, as well as to inspect cooperation programs between Taiwan and the allies on medicine and animal husbandry, Hsu said.

The president is also scheduled to address the Nauruan Parliament and give a speech at the inaugural Pacific Women Leaders’ Coalition Conference, which is to be held in the Marshall Islands on March 26 and 27, he said.

As to whether and where Tsai will make transit stops during the trip, Hsu said that arrangements are still being made and the details would be announced once they have been finalized.

“Taiwan and these diplomatic allies share several similarities. The first is the ocean, as we are all island nations and care much about sustainable marine development. The second is democracy. We have all adopted a democratic system, and recognize the importance of regional peace and stability,” Hsu said.

“We will see that the ocean is there not to set us apart, but rather to bring us together,” he added.

Hsu said another purpose of the trip is to deepen Taiwanese’s understanding of the allies, which have repeatedly spoken up for Taiwan in the international arena.

The Chinese-language newspaper Apple Daily had reported in January that Tsai’s first state visit this year would include Kiribati, but Hsu said the president could not visit Kiribati due to her schedule.

The ministry initially suggested the period between March 24 and March 31 for Tsai’s state visit, which was agreed by the allies and Kiribati President Taneti Maamau, he said.

However, due to her plan to preside over a ceremony to commemorate sacrifices made by forebears in Taiwan on March 29, she rescheduled the trip to March 21 to March 28, Hsu said.

Maamau, who is also the chancellor of the University of the South Pacific, would not be available during that period, as he would preside over the school’s graduation ceremony at its Fiji campus, he said.

Tsai has agreed to visit Kiribati at another time, Hsu added.

The delegation is to include National Security Council Secretary-General David Lee (李大維), Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮), Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), Council of Indigenous Peoples Minister Icyang Parod, lawmakers and entrepreneurs and representatives of medical institutions that have cooperated with the allies on medical affairs, he said.

Taiwan has six diplomatic allies in the Pacific — Palau, Nauru, the Marshall Islands, Kiribati, the Solomon Islands and Tuvalu.

Tsai visited the Solomon Islands, the Marshall Islands and Tuvalu in October 2017.

In other news, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe yesterday retweeted a message by Tsai, expressing his thanks for Taiwan’s assistance during the earthquake and tsunami that hit northeastern Japan in March 2011.

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