Fri, Aug 27, 2004 - Page 3 News List

Chen shortens Central America tour


President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) will shorten his visit to two diplomatic allies in Central America by a day in response to Typhoon Aere which devastated the north and center of the country, said Pres-idential Office Deputy Secretary-General James Huang (黃志芳) yesterday.

Huang said that Chen will depart for Central America on Monday instead of Sunday and return the following Sunday.

Chen will visit Panama and Belize and make transit stops in Hawaii en route to the region and Seattle when returning home, he said.

Huang said that the plane carrying Chen and his entourage will only make refueling stops in Hawaii and Seattle and that Chen would not stay overnight. However, Chen will attend banquets to be held in his honor by expatriates in those two locations.

Presently, Huang said, flood relief and reconstruction are the government's top priorities in the wake of Typhoon Aere. He added that Chen has kept abreast of the latest developments and coordinated disaster-relief efforts over the past two days.

Huang said that Chen will attend the inauguration ceremony of Panamanian President-elect Martin Torrijos on Sept. 1. After a visit of less than 44 hours in Panama, Chen will fly to Belize to sign a joint communique with Belizean Prime Minister Said Musa. Chen's visit to that country will be no longer than 24 hours, as it has been cut down to a minimum, he said.

Adding that Chen was willing to sacrifice rest time so that he could focus on diplomatic work and disaster relief, Huang urged the public not to attach political significance to his shortened stay in the US.

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