Following President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) recent visit to Africa, Premier Yu Shyi-kun is scheduled to visit a diplomatic ally of Taiwan in the Caribbean in August, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday.
"We're planning Premier Yu's visit to Haiti," a ministry press release said.
The ministry said international tours by high-ranking officials was a highly effective way to strengthen ties with its diplomatic allies.
Few of Taiwan's high-ranking officials have ever visited Haiti, the statement said.
The statement also characterized the premier's planned visit as normal.
"It's necessary and common for high-ranking officials of a sovereign state to conduct overseas trips," it said. "In addition to strengthening the political ties between the two countries, overseas trips increase Taiwan's international profile and media exposure."
Former US president Bill Clinton, for example, went on 133 overseas trips during his eight-year term of office, the statement said.
It is also more effective for the heads of state of two countries to hammer out resolutions and discuss significant issues face-to-face, it said.
The statement went on to cite opinion poll statistics showing that the public supported such trips.
"An opinion poll conducted by the ministry last June showed that 57.6 percent of the people questioned support the idea [of high-ranking officials' international tours] because they said the visits help upgrade Taiwan's international profile," the statement said.
The Cabinet yesterday remained tight-lipped about the premier's planned visit.
"We'll let the Ministry of Foreign Affairs take care of everything," Cabinet Spokesman Chuang Suo-hang (
A close aid to the premier told the Taipei Times that Minister of Foreign Affairs Eugene Chien (簡又新) yesterday briefed Yu about the forthcoming visit and the president's recent 10-day visit to Africa. The aide refused to offer more details about the conversation between the two during the meeting.
Chien accompanied the president to Africa, during which the 110-member delegation visited Senegal, Sao Tome and Principe, Malawi and Swaziland.
The government pushed for high-level visits to foreign countries since former president Lee Teng-hui (
During his 12-year term as the president, Lee went on five overseas trips, visiting eight of Taiwan's diplomatic allies: Nicaragua, Costa Rica, South Africa, Swaziland, Panama, Honduras, El Salvador and Paraguay.
He visited seven countries that did not have diplomatic relations with Taiwan.
Apart from his recent trip to Africa, Chen has taken two official trips overseas since taking office in 2000. He visited six diplomatic allies in Latin American and Africa in May 2000 and five more in Latin America in August last year.
There are 28 countries that have diplomatic ties with Taiwan, most of which are located in Africa and Latin America.