Wed, Jan 25, 2006 - Page 3 News List

President defends foreign ministry appointments

By Chiu Yu-tzu  /  STAFF REPORTER

The president defended the appointment of his deputy chief of staff to the nation's top foreign affairs post while meeting foreign diplomats in Taipei yesterday, saying that he would have the support of the man he is replacing.

New foreign affairs personnel will help Taiwan explore its international space by adopting effective strategies, President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) said yesterday.

Chen made the comments while receiving representatives from Paraguay, including Senate chairman Carlos Alberto Filizzola.

The president's arrangement of new foreign affairs officials has been criticized by the opposition parties. In particular, Huang's relative lack of experience in serving high-level diplomatic positions has been described as "a negative."

Chen said that the new officials, including incoming Presidential Office Secretary-General Mark Chen (陳唐山) -- who is also the former foreign minister -- and incoming minister of foreign affairs James Huang (黃志芳), will significantly improve relations between Taiwan and Paraguay.

The president said that Mark Chen had decades of experience in foreign affairs, while Huang had successfully initiated the Jung Pang Project, which promotes investment in Taiwan's diplomatic allies in Central America.

"I'm sure these two capable people will improve bilateral relations. Paraguay will definitely benefit from ... the Jung Pang Project," Chen Shui-bian said.

Filizzola said he looked forward to improved collaboration in social welfare, agriculture and industry, and expressed confidence that Huang would be able to improve relations as head of the foreign ministry.

However, People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) said on Monday that Huang was obviously unqualified because he has not served as one of the nation's representatives overseas.

Huang responded yesterday.

"I've visited about 70 countries and planned more than 10 of the president's overseas trips. It's true that I've never been an official representative of Taiwan overseas, but my experience might exceed that of high-ranking officials," Huang told the media.

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