Thu, Sep 02, 2004 - Page 3 News List

Chen revises national title in Panama

OFFICIAL USE The president's arrival in Panama saw members of his entourage sporting a brand new name for their country on their name tags


Schoolchildren in Panama greet President Chen Shui-bian on his arrival yesterday on a state visit.


Flying into the Panamanian capital on Tuesday after a stopover in Hawaii, President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) three-day tour of Central American allies started with the official use of "ROC (Taiwan)" when meeting dignitaries.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Mark Chen (陳唐山), who is accompanying Chen Shui-bian on this trip, said that the government agreed to use "ROC (Taiwan)" to represent the nation for this state visit.

The term was also featured in advertisements in the local news-papers Provincias and La Estrella de Panama to welcome the arrival of Chen Shui-bian and his entourage.

"The term is being used in the hope that people in the host country will not confuse us with the PRC [People's Republic of China]," Mark Chen said, adding that the term would also be used on the name tags of the entourage in Panama and later in Belize.

Chen Shui-bian was welcomed by Panamanian First Vice President Arturo Vallarino, Second Vice President Dominador Kaiser Bazan and Taiwan's Panamanian ambassador David Hu (胡正堯) on arrival at the Panama City-Bay County International Airport.

The main purpose of the visit is to attend today's inauguration of Panamanian President-elect Martin Torrijos.

Shortly after arrival, Chen Shui-bian paid a courtesy visit to outgoing President Mireya Elisa Moscoso and expressed gratitude for his contribution to the development of Taiwan-Panama relations during his presidency.

"I hope that Taiwan-Panama relations will, built upon the current foundations, continue as good bilateral ties," Mark Chen quoted Chen Shui-bian as saying to Moscoso during the 40-minute meeting.

Chen Shui-bian then called on Torrijos and congratulated him on his election. They discussed trade between the two nations in the light of the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) that was signed earlier this year.

Mark Chen said that Torrijos responded positively to Chen Shui-bian's comments on the importance of enhancing ties between Taiwan and Panama

"The ambiance of the meeting between President Chen and Torrijos was very sincere and pleasant," he said.

Chen Shui-bian also extended an invitation to Torrijos to visit Taiwan next month and take part in Double Ten Day celebrations.

Torrijos reportedly replied that he wanted to focus on domestic affairs first, but said that he would visit Taiwan soon.

Speaking to international media shortly after his meeting with Torrijos, Chen Shui-bian was asked about accelerated attempts by China to engage with Panama.

"President Chen said China can develop economic and trade ties with Panama while it maintains formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan," said Government Information Office Director-General Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) at a news conference briefing Taiwanese reporters on Chen's meeting with the international press, as is the custom.

"The Panamanian people should understand that this is the best arrangement ... there is no need to sacrifice Taiwan [in exchange for developing economic relations with China,]" he quoted Chen Shui-bian as saying.

At the Hotel Caesar Park, where the Taiwanese and a number of other foreign delegations are staying for the inauguration, Chen Shui-bian "accidentally" met Brazilian Vice President Jose de Alencar and the chairman of Brazil's Liberal Party, Valdemar Costa Neto, in the lobby.

In a conversation which lasted for about 10 minutes, Chen and Jose de Alencar exchanged greetings and spoke of strengthening economic and trade ties between the two nations.

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