Minister of Foreign Affairs James Huang (
Huang made the remarks while reporting on Chen's recent trip to Latin America during a meeting of the Legislative Yuan's Foreign Affairs Committee yesterday.
He also said that "a new mindset and approach was adopted" when making arrangements for transit stops for Chen's visit to Paraguay and Costa Rica, two of the nation's allies in Latin America.
Displeased with Washington's refusal to grant the government's initial request for stopovers in New York or San Francisco, and restrictions that Washington placed on its offer of a stopover in Anchorage, Alaska, Chen decided to transit through the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the Netherlands on his way to Paraguay, and in the Dominican Republic, Libya and Indonesia on his return trip from Costa Rica.
Huang said the decision to bypass stopovers in the US "kept the United States from being embarrassed," adding that the trip had made breakthroughs, in that the president stopped in countries with which Taiwan has no formal diplomatic relations.
During Chen's stopover in Libya, he talked with the top leaders there and reached a consensus on setting up mutual representative offices, Huang said.
Noting that the US announced a full resumption of diplomatic relations with Libya and had removed the country from its list of terrorist nations on May 15, Huang said that this had vindicated Taiwan's judgment.
Meanwhile, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Su Chi (
The man, Iskandar Safa, was allegedly a member of Qaddafi's entourage and met Chen in the Presidential Office.
Su said he suspected that Chen's stopovers in the UAE and Libya were rooted in his dealings with Safa.
Safa is also wanted by France in connection with an arms sale scandal involving top French government officials, Su said.
According to Su, Safa is stateless, traveling to and from only Taiwan, UAE and Libya due to an international warrant for his arrest.
Safa is originally from Lebanon, and gained notoriety as an arms dealer, the legislator said.
Su also said he believed that Chen's stopover in the UAE was made possible by Taiwan's proposed purchase of swimmer delivery vehicles, or mini-submarines, from the UAE, facilitated by Safa, and that kickbacks to high-level Taiwanese officials in connection with that deal were likely.
Su offered no evidence to support his claims.
In response, ministry spokesman Michel Lu (
Lu said that Taiwan is going to great efforts to develop ties with Middle Eastern countries, and that this did not rely on just one person.