Tue, Jan 10, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Taiwan eager to lend Nauru a hand, Chen tells envoys

By Chiu Yu-Tzu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Taiwan would like to sign agricultural agreements with Nauru, not only to supply more food to the South-Pacific island republic, but also to give it the necessary expertise to further secure its food security, President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) said yesterday.

Chen received David Adeang, Nauruan minister of foreign and finance affairs, and Frederick Pitcher, minister of island development and industry, at the Presidential Office yesterday.

As Nauru relies heavily on Australia for imports of agricultural products and articles for daily use, Chen said that Taiwan would be glad to offer more technical assistance to ensure Nauru's food security.

"Nauru has no roots in agriculture. If agricultural agreements can be signed, Taiwan will do its best to offer the necessary expertise to advance Nauru's agriculture and secure its sources of food," Chen said.

Chen told the two ministers that future collaboration between the two countries could be extended beyond agriculture to include education, trade and social development.

During their five-day trip to Taiwan, the two ministers will visit marble and cement factories in eastern Taiwan, China Steel Corp, China Shipbuilding Corp and vocational training centers in Taipei County.

Nauru, which is 5,100km southeast of Taiwan, is one of the world's smallest independent countries both in terms of population and land area. Currently, 12,800 residents live on a coral reef island covering 21.3km2.

Nauru existed as an independent island society until it was annexed by Germany in 1888 as part of the Marshall Islands Protectorate.

It became an independent republic on Jan. 31, 1968. In 2003, Nauru terminated diplomatic ties with Taiwan after 22 years. The relationship was re-established in May last year.

Chen said that he is looking forward to the visit of Nauruan President Ludwig Scotty in March.

"In May last year, when the World Health Assembly's annual meeting was held in Geneva, Nauru spoke out on Taiwan's behalf. In September last year, at the UN's General Assembly, Nauru expressed its strong support for Taiwan's entry to the organization," Chen said.

He added that when he visited Tuvalu and Kiribati, two of Taiwan's diplomatic allies in the Pacific Ocean, last year, the two countries asked Taiwan to help resolve the controversy about miners detained in Nauru.

Mining of Nauru's extensive phosphate reserves began in 1905. Foreign workers come from nearby islands, and as far as China.

"I'm glad to say that Taiwanese representatives eventually solved related problems through the operation of the Pacific Islands Forum," Chen said.

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