Sat, Nov 01, 2003 - Page 3 News List

Small group of officials bids farewell to the president

By Chang Yun-Ping  /  STAFF REPORTER , WITH CNA

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) was seen off by only a small array of family and officials yesterday when he departed on a seven-day diplomatic trip amid the furor triggered by Chinese National Party (KMT) chairman Lien Chan's (連戰) return to Taiwan on Monday, when 60 KMT and People First Party legislators paralyzed the legislature by attending Lien's welcoming reception at CKS airport.

Bidding farewell to Chen were First Lady Wu Shu-chen (吳淑珍), Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮), Democratic Progressive Party Sec-retary-General Chang Chun-hsiung (張俊雄), Presidential Office Secretary-General Chiou I-jen (邱義仁), Deputy Secretary-General Chen Che-nan (陳哲男), Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials and the head of the foreign diplomatic corps.

Chen said he had told the presidents of the five branches of government that they have their own duties and need not come to the airport. He added that he hopes that the presidents of the five government branches, the minister of national defense and the chief of the general staff will in future no longer be required to see the president off.

Leading a 100-member entourage, Chen yesterday left Taiwan for New York on a two-night transit stop on his way to a state visit to Panama, where he is slated to attend the country's centennial celebrations and promote trade relations with allies in Central America.

Chen is expected to exchange notes with Panamanian President Mireya Moscoso on a free trade agreement signed by the two leaders in Taipei on Aug. 21.

During the two-day stopover in New York, Chen will receive this year's Human Rights Award from the International League for Human Rights and pay tribute to former first lady Soong Mayling (蔣宋美齡), who died in her Manhattan residence on Oct. 23.

Chen said that "the concerted efforts of Taiwan's people and their love of democracy, freedom and human rights," have enabled him to receive the award, adding that the honor belongs to all people of Taiwan.

The entourage departed CKS International Airport at 11am via a chartered China Airlines plane.

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