President Chen Shui-bian (
At a news conference held at Chiang Kai-shek International Airport following first lady Wu Shu-chen's (吳淑珍) return from a nine-day European tour to Germany and the Vatican, Chen confirmed media reports that he would make a trip but would not say to where.
The trip would have been made earlier had it not been for the SARS outbreak that gripped the country between April and June, he said.
Chen said he was satisfied with the smooth conclusion of his wife's European tour, which was aimed at promoting cultural exchanges and friendship with Europe.
Because of Beijing's diplomatic embargo, Chen said, Taiwan faces enormous difficulties in promoting its international profile. He lauded Wu, who has used a wheelchair since a truck ran her over in 1985, for her fortitude and devotion in promoting the nation's visibility in the world arena.
"Wu is unable to stand on her feet, but she has completed the long-distance diplomatic tour with her strong will and passion," Chen said, adding that he was moved when the Ciampino military airport in Rome hoisted the ROC national flag to welcome Wu last Sunday for a visit to the Vatican -- Taiwan's only diplomatic ally in Europe.
Chen said that even though China has spared no effort to suppress Taiwan's presence in the international community, the people of Taiwan will not be daunted by such challenges.
Following Wu's two-leg European tour, Chen said his administration will launch many more diplomatic drives in the coming months.
Next month, he said, Vice President Annette Lu (
In late August, Chen went on, a summit meeting between Taiwan and its Central American allies will be held in Taipei.