Wed, Nov 10, 2004 - Page 2 News List

Government did not offer Vanuatu money, Yu insists

CNA , TAIPEI

Premier Yu Shyi-kun said yesterday the government did not promise a large aid package to the South Pacific island nation of Vanuatu in exchange for diplomatic recognition of Taiwan.

Yu made the remarks during a Legislative Yuan question-and-answer session where Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Sun Guo-hua (孫國華) asked the premier whether foreign wire service reports about Taiwan's large aid offer to Vanuatu were correct.

"Previous foreign wire service reports said Taiwan pledged to offer a grant of US$28 million (NT$950 million) to Vanuatu but later reports said the aid amount could reach US$6 billion. Were those reports correct?" Sun asked.

In response, Yu said the government is likely to pledge aid while establishing diplomatic relations with a specific country, but has never pledged an extremely large special offer to a single diplomatic ally.

Even though he has not yet read the joint communique signed by Minister of Foreign Affairs Mark Chen (陳唐山) and Vanuatu Prime Minister Serge Vohor in Taipei last Thursday on the establishment of full diplomatic ties between the two countries, Yu said he is convinced that the government did not offer Vanuatu money.

Asked whether the reported US$6 billion aid offer could be paid out of the confidential budgets of the Presidential Office or the national security units, Yu ruled out that possibility, saying that all of the nation's foreign aid has consistently been listed in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' "secret budget" section.

Vanuatu forged full-fledged diplomatic ties with Taiwan last Thursday after Vohor signed a joint communique with Chen to that effect. Vanuatu, which has a population of about 200,000, is Taiwan's 27th diplomatic ally.

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