Sat, Aug 19, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Koo backs strengthening ties with S Pacific allies

PRACTICAL AID The former senior presidential adviser favored extending industrial cooperation especially in maritime affairs to expand Taiwan's diplomatic space

By Su Yung-yao  /  STAFF REPORTER

Koo Kuan-min, a former senior presidential adviser, yesterday displays the photo of a boat owned by his company. The boat's crew early this month rescued three Mexican fishermen who had been adrift for nine months.

PHOTO: CHIEN JUNG-FONG, TAIPEI TIMES

As President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) is scheduled to visit Taiwan's diplomatic allies in the southern Pacific next month, his former senior adviser Koo Kwang-ming (辜寬敏) suggested that, rather than direct financial aid, Taiwan should assist the Marshall Islands to develop its fishing industry.

Koo made the remarks in an interview with the Chinese-language Liberty Times (the Taipei Times' sister paper) on Thursday.

Koo, also the owner of Koo's Fishing Co, whose boat earlier this month rescued three Mexican fishermen who had been adrift for nine months, said that he has constantly assisted the government in promoting its diplomatic affairs.

In fact, earlier this year, the same boat also rescued two fishermen from Kiribati.

When Kiribati President Anote Tong later attended a national day ceremony in the Marshall Islands, he especially expressed his gratitude to Koo.

According to Koo, his company plans to purchase two more vessels this year to expand its investment in the Marshall Islands, a development the local government said was "too good to believe."

Such investments are welcome by not only the Marshall Islands, but also neighboring countries such as Tuvalu, which is currently actively seeking cooperation with the company.

Koo is scheduled to accompany President Chen during his diplomatic tour next month.

Koo said he will seize the chance to hold further talks with Tuvalu at the summit between Taiwan's leadership and the nation's six Southern Pacific allies.

In terms of how Taiwan can strengthen its diplomatic relations with these allies, Koo said that since all were island nations, they must depend on their maritime resources, which gives the Tai-wanese government a chance to step in.

"As China's national strength is constantly growing, its diplomatic interference in this area will become stronger," Koo said.

Koo added that the Taiwanese government should come up with a long-term plan rather than just relying on direct financial aid.

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