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Wed, Jan 12, 2000 - Page 2 News List

Diplomatic mission heads for Africa

STAFF WRITER , WITH AFP

Minister of Foreign Affairs Chen Chien-jen (程建仁) embarked on a tour of Taiwan's diplomatic allies in Central America and Africa yesterday.

Chen flew to Guatemala last night to attend the inauguration of President-elect Alfonso Portillo Cabrera. He will go to Senegal and Gambia, after Guatemala, as his Chinese counterpart Tang Jiaxuan (唐家璇) is also on a five-nation tour of Africa.

Chen is to meet with Senegal's President Abdou Diouf, Prime Minister Mamadou Lamine Loum and Foreign Minister Jacques Baudin during his Jan. 17 to 22 stay.

He is also to donate a rice-husking factory to Senegal and forge an agreement to avoid bilateral double taxation.

The foreign ministry said Chen is due to hold a regional work conference "aimed at reviewing Taiwan's diplomatic efforts, formulate its African policy and to boost the morale of the diplomats there."

From Senegal, the minister is to travel to Gambia on Jan. 21, where he will call on President Yahya Jammeh. China's latest diplomatic offensive contrasts starkly with the relatively cold shoulder Beijing gave Africa in the 1980s and early 1990s.

Tang Jiaxuan's tour is scheduled to culminate in a Beijing Sino-African ministerial conference in October.

Tang left Beijing Saturday and will visit Nigeria, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and the Seychelles during the trip which is to end Jan. 20.

Africa has emerged as a diplomatic battle ground between Taipei and Beijing since their separation in 1949 at the end of a civil war.

Taiwan currently maintains diplomatic ties with 29 countries.

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