Fri, Jul 05, 2002 - Page 3 News List

Chen takes a trip around Sao Tome and Principe

By Lin Chieh-yu  /  STAFF REPORTER , IN SAO TOME

Children of Sao Tome and Principe wave flags featuring President Chen Shui-bian's face to welcome him yesterday. It was the second stop on Chen's four-nation African tour.

PHOTO: CNA

On his second day in Sao Tome and Principe, President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) met Taiwanese nationals stationed in local medical and agricultural units and inspected infrastructure that had been built with funding from Taiwan.

The president also promised the Sao Tome media that Taiwan will assist the country in developing its oil and natural gas resources.

Chen, on a 10-day tour to four African allies, inspected the ROC embassy and took photos with ROC Ambassador Ko Chi-sheng (柯吉生), staff working at the embassy and their families. He then accompanied Sao Tome and Principe President Fradique de Menezes to the national library and theater, which was funded by Taiwan.

On seeing that the library still had no books even though it opened in May, a member of the Taiwanese delegation pledged to donate 500 books to its shelves.

De Menezes and Foreign Minister Alda da Conceicao explained in detail to Chen the characteristics of the two buildings and reiterated that the Sao Tome people now enjoy better leisure facilities thanks to the generous aid from Taiwan.

Chen responded that Taiwan should provide not only material aid and assistance to its allies but also transfer technology and skills, saying that Taiwan should "not just give them fish, but teach them how to fish."

In the capital, Sao Tome, many members of Taiwan's delegation were amazed by the Portuguese architecture and scenery, which they said was very different from what they had imaged. Sao Tome and Principe was a Portuguese colony before it gained independence in 1975.

Ko briefed Chen about the country after he arrived on Wednesday. Ko said that, in preparing for Chen's visit, de Menezes had the whole country's streets cleaned and made Wednesday a national holiday so people could gather along the streets to greet Chen.

Ko stressed that the country was blessed with a variety of natural resources, including fruit and fish, and does not have food shortages like some other African nations.

If not for the malaria that plagues the country, it would be a more popular tourist destination, he said.

At an evening banquet, Chen praised the beautiful country as being the "Formosa of Africa."

Earlier in the afternoon, Chen gave interviews to the local media, during which he was asked about the country's natural resources.

He told them Taiwan would be willing to help Sao Tome and Principe exploit the oil and natural gas reserves in the sea surrounding the island nation

Chen said that this issue had been brought up by de Menezes when he visited Taiwan earlier this year and that Taipei had sent a team to evaluate the situation last month.

The president said that Taiwan would do its best to facilitate cooperation between the two countries with greatest sincerity.

Chen is scheduled to leave for Malawi today on the third leg of his 10-day African tour.

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