Visiting Malawian President Bingu Wa Mutharika pledged to continue support for Taiwan's bid to enter the World Health Organization (WHO) and the UN at a meeting with President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) yesterday.
Mutharika, the first head of state of Taiwan's diplomatic allies to visit the country this year, led a delegation of senior Malawian officials to Taipei for a five-day visit.
Chen accorded Mutharika with the pomp of a state visit, complete with military honors and a 21-gun salute at Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall yesterday.
Mutharika arrived in Taipei yesterday morning and attended a welcoming ceremony at Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall in the afternoon. Accompanied by senior officials from both countries, Chen and Mutharika stood as a military band played the national anthems of the Republic of China (ROC) and Malawi.
"I, with a sincere heart, represent the 23 million people of Taiwan in extending our welcoming hands to our distinguished guests. I am delighted to see our friends from faraway Africa," Chen said in his welcoming remarks.
The visit by Mutharika, his wife and the official delegation is "a testimony to the close and cooperative relationship between Taiwan and Malawi" and writes "a new historical chapter in the two countries' friendship," Chen said.
Chen said he hoped to exchange opinions with Mutharika about the current international situation, regional development in Asia and Africa and bilateral ties between Taiwan and Malawi.
In his speech, Mutharika said Malawi would continue its efforts to urge the international community to recognize Taiwan.
Chen and Mutharika held a meeting at the Presidential Office after the welcoming ceremony. Minister of Foreign Affair Mark Chen (
Lauding Mutharika as Malawi's most successful politician, Chen praised Mutharika's efforts to develop his country's economy and anti-AIDS campaign. He also thanked Malawi for backing Taiwan's bid to participate in the UN and the WHO.
Mutharika, elected president in May last year, launched a drive to rid his country of corruption, an action widely reported by media outlets in Africa.
"President Mutharika is scheduled to meet with our government heads and visit our economic, technological and agricultural institutions," the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a press release.
Among Mutharika's delegation to Taiwan are his ministers of foreign affairs, industry, science and technology, the ministry said.
"Although the ROC and Malawi are geographically distant from each other, our two countries' friendship has been cordial and firm since the establishment of diplomatic ties 38 years ago," the ministry's press release said.
"Over the years, Malawi has spoken for Taiwan on various international occasions and lent us support. We are very thankful for its efforts," the statement said.
Chen will hold a state banquet for Mutharika in Taichung tonight.