President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) will leave for a three-day state visit to Palau and Nauru on Sept. 3, Presidential Office Deputy Secretary-General Liu Shih-fang (劉世芳) announced yesterday.
"The president will attend a summit meeting with the nation's six Pacific island allies in Palau and deliver a speech in Nauru's parliament," Liu said at a news conference held at the Presidential Office.
Local media had previously reported that Chen was likely to make a transit in Guam before returning to Taipei.
The report had been interpreted by some as an expression of the US' support for Chen, who is facing mounting pressure to step down from office over a string of corruption allegations involving his aides and family members.
Liu said that Chen is scheduled to return to Taiwan on Sept. 6.
"We will announce whether Chen will stop over in a third country next week," she said.
While there have been rumors in the local media that Chen will, for the first time, use the presidential jet, dubbed "Air Force One," with a military crew for the upcoming trip, Liu made no comment.
"Considering the size of the[small] runways [of the two countries], we will use two airplanes for this trip," Liu said, when asked by reporters about the flight details.
Liu said that President Chen's participation in the summit in Palau is to consolidate the nation's friendships with its South Pacific allies.
"Taiwan is a newly rising democratic country and has encountered some difficulties during its democratic transition. We wish to exchange views on the experiences of democratic development with our allies at the summit," Liu said.
She added that the summit was intended to advance multilateral cooperation in eight areas including democracy, medical treatment, alternative energies, agriculture, fishing, e-government, economics, tourism and culture.
The president will sign a joint declaration with the six heads of state at the conclusion of the summit, Liu said.