Mon, May 22, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Chen welcomes President Anote Tong of Kiribati

AFP , TAIPEI

President Chen Shui-bian and President Anote Tong of Kiribati inspect a guard of honor guard in the square in front of the Presidential Office yesterday.

PHOTO: WANG YI-SUNG, TAIPEI TIMES

The nation rolled out the red carpet yesterday to welcome Kiribatian President Anote Tong, with President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) describing the tiny Pacific island state as a "staunch ally."

Tong, accompanied by Chen, reviewed a military honor guard after being greeted with a 21-gun salute on the square of the Presidential Office.

Chen said both countries shared the universal values of democracy and freedom.

"We are honored to have a friend like President Anote Tong [as his government has defended Taiwan internationally]," Chen said.

"Various infrastructure development projects as well as agricultural and fishery exchanges have been under way since the two countries established full diplomatic relations on November 7, 2003," Chen said in his welcoming speech.

He said he hoped the results "would emerge as the model of cooperation between democratic countries in the region."

Tong arrived on Saturday for a five-day visit, the second trip since his government switched diplomatic recognition from Beijing to Taipei.

China has condemned Kiribati's decision and dismantled its mid-Pacific satellite tracking base on the island.

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