Wed, Nov 09, 2005 - Page 2 News List

Foreign ministry rejects newspaper's allegations

DIPLOMATIC LINKS The ministry spokesman said that President Chen had not been tipped off nor given any early warning about Senegal's switching ties to Beijing

By Chang Yun-ping  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday denied media reports that President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) had received prior notice from Gambia's president last month over Senegal's intention to defect to China.

Gambian President Yahya Jammeh was reported to have sent messages to Chen during his visit in Taiwan for the Double Ten National Day celebrations last month to be extra careful of the possibility of Senegal switching its ties to China, a Chinese-language newspaper said.

Ministry spokesman Michel Lu (呂慶龍) said that Jammeh did send a letter to Chen on Sept. 15, accusing Senegal of attempting to launch attacks on Gambia and Guinea-Bissau by stepping up its weaponry purchases from France.

Lu said Jammeh made the accusations against Senegal in the UN meeting in September.

Lu said that Taiwan's representative office in New York had been asked to forward the letter back to Chen.

The six-page, 22-paragraph letter did not contain any information suggesting any changes to either Senegal-Taiwan or Senegal-China relations, he said.

"The whole letter is about affairs between Gambia and Senegal and there is no mention of Senegal-Taiwan or Senegal-China relations," Lu said.

The ministry denied that Jammeh had personally tipped Chen during his visit to Taipei to be cautious about Senegal's interactions with China, saying the conversations between the two leaders did not touch on anything related to Taiwan-Senegal relations.

The Presidential Office also issued a statement yesterday, sternly refuting the newspaper report.

The Presidential Office's Department of Public Affairs said in a press statement that Jammeh had said nothing last month about Taiwan's relations with Senegal.

Jammeh did not address the issue in the letter sent to Chen in September either, it said.

In other diplomatic news, the ministry yesterday dismissed media reports that the government had given the Marshall Islands US$5 million to build a floating dock, which was later discarded after environmentalists protested that it would would damage marine resources.

Lu said the dock was funded by private companies, not the government.

"President Chen did not promise to fund the building of the floating dock during his visit to the Marshall Islands in May," he said.

It's entirely the business of Taiwanese companies and the Marshall Islands," the spokesman said.

Additional reporting by Chiu Yu-tzu

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