Fri, May 12, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Opposition calls Tripoli stop an error

AFP , BEIJING AND TAIPEI

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators Lee Ching-hua, second left, and John Chiang, right, and other panelists smile when a slip of the tongue caused Lee to say, ``Have you played enough, Grandpa Lien [Chan]?'' when he meant to say ``Grandpa Chen [Shui-bian]'' at a press conference yesterday. Lee also said that he doubted Chen's international trip signified ``a diplomatic breakthrough.''

PHOTO: CNA

Opposition lawmakers yesterday accused President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) of jeopardizing ties with the US by stopping in Libya rather than Alaska on his way home from Latin America.

"I don't understand in what way Chen's transit visit could benefit the Taiwanese people ... Taiwan is not like Libya and Taiwan is a democratic country," Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Sun Ta-chien (孫大千) said.

"The Taiwanese people hope to maintain trust and friendship with the US and Chen has to take the political responsibility for his single-minded move," he said.

Another KMT lawmaker, Lee Ching-hua (李慶華), said: "Chen kept lying about his transit stops. His visit to Libya is astonishing."

Chen landed in Tripoli late on Wednesday, where he was greeted by Saif Qaddafi, son of Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi.

Lawmakers in the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) praised the Libya visit as a diplomatic "breakthrough."

"It is a breakthrough that President Chen can visit countries that do not have diplomatic relations with Taiwan and that can resist the pressure of China," DPP legislator Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴) said.

"The foreign ministry should make public the achievements Chen made during his Libya visit to win public support," she said.

Meanwhile, China yesterday blasted the Libyan government for holding talks with Chen and letting him visit the country.

"Regardless of China's persuasion and strong opposition, Libya insisted on allowing Chen Shui-bian to stop over and discussed with him setting up representative offices on each other's territory," said Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesman Liu Jianchao (劉建超).

"We express our strong dissatisfaction and have made solemn representations with Libya. This is a serious violation of Libya's long-term commitment to China and will have a negative impact on bilateral relations between China and Libya," Liu said.

Taiwan opened diplomatic relations with Libya in 1959, but broke them off in 1978 when Tripoli switched recognition to China. Taipei set up a trade office in Libya in 1980, but shut it down in 1997.

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