Fri, Aug 22, 2003 - Page 3 News List

Visiting dignitaries get royal treatment during stay

By Fiona Lu  /  STAFF REPORTER , WITH CNA

Visiting leaders of Central American and Caribbean nations received first-class treatment on the opening day the Taiwan-Central American summit yesterday.

"The ministry put money and manpower into giving the visitors the best reception during their stay in Taiwan," said Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Richard Shih (石瑞琦).

The reception Shih referred to included five-star accommodation, genuine cuisine and an itinerary arranged for first ladies while their presidential husbands attended the one-day summit yesterday.

The biennial summit -- the fourth since it was started by former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) in 1997 -- convened in Taiwan yesterday and included seven national leaders and a presidential aide from Central America and the Caribbean.

The reception mobilized almost every five-star hotel in downtown Taipei.

The Grand Hotel was responsible for receiving Panama President Mireya Elisa Moscoso, the only female president among the eight top-ranking conferees, and provided her with a personal assistant.

The Grand Hotel, with its long history, was also chosen to host a national banquet for the foreign guests last night with a routine menu preferred by President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) that centered on local cuisine.

The hotel's top four chefs presented delicacies made of locally grown avocado, bamboo shoots and taro.

The Grand Formosa Regent Hotel received Guatemalan President Alfonso Antonio Portillo and the Dominican representative and provided Spanish-speaking servants. It also replaced its coffee beans with ones grown in Guatemala based on Portillo's recommendation.

As for the Grand Hyatt Hotel, the host of yesterday's conference, all chefs were on 24-hour stand-by for preparatory work for the meeting.

It was also designated to host Costa Rican President Abel Pacheco and Belize Prime Minister Said W. Musa, whose favorite food includes peanuts.

The Westin Taipei welcomed El Salvador President Perez and his wife with a bundle of flowers, mostly lilies and bird of paradise flowers upon their arrival Wednesday.

The Caesar Park Hotel plans another national feast on Sunday for two foreign leaders -- the Guatemalan and Salvadoran presidents -- who plan to extend their visit in Taiwan until next week, with salted duck, roast lamb and tea jelly for dessert.

The diplomatic gala also included a coffee festival featuring an exhibition of Central American coffee beans. The festival took place at the plaza of the Shin Kong Mitsukoshi Department Store yesterday evening.

The leaders and their entourage appeared at the festival late last night.

Shih said the expense for accommodating the presidential visitors was covered by annual reception funds and was without "any additional borrowing from ministry or government budgets that are irrelevant to public relations."

The first ladies of the visiting dignitaries toured a glass art museum in suburban Taipei yesterday.

While their husbands were at the summit, the first ladies of Costa Rica and El Salvador and wives of senior leaders of Central American and Caribbean countries visited the Tittot Glass Art Museum in Peitou, founded by Heinrich Wang (王俠軍), a pioneer in Taiwan's glass art development.

Both Costa Rican first lady Leila Rodriguez and El Salvadoran first lady Lourdes Rodriguez de Flores said they were impressed by the glass art works on display.

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