Fri, Nov 10, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Taiwan funding facilities for Pacific allies summit

STAFF WRITER , WITH AFP, MAJURO

The Marshall Islands announced yesterday that it is to receive a US$5 million donation from Taiwan to build facilities for next year's Taiwan Pacific Allies Summit.

Marshall Islands President Kessai Note said the money would pay for a convention center and a presidential village to house the six visiting heads of state expected at the meeting in the capital Majuro next September.

The talks, the first round of which took place this year, will be held amid allegations that Taiwan and China are engaged in checkbook diplomacy to woo allies in the Pacific, with both offering generous aid packages to attract support.

The first Taiwan allies summit was held in Palau this September, bringing President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) together with the heads of the six Pacific island states holding diplomatic ties with Taipei.

The impoverished and tiny island states of the Marshall Islands, Tuvalu, Nauru, Palau, the Solomon Islands and Kiribati represent a quarter of all the countries which give diplomatic recognition to Taipei, rather than Beijing.

Note said that while the new convention center and the presidential village will belong to the government of Taiwan, "following the summit, it is anticipated that the government of Taiwan will donate these two facilities to the people and government of the Marshall Islands."

The new facilities would help the central Pacific nation host larger regional and international conferences, he said.

Note is to leave on Monday for Honolulu to attend a conference on business opportunities in the Pacific and will then fly to Taiwan to conclude agreements on the summit and a further US$2 million for a commuter aircraft.

Taiwan currently provides the Marshall Islands with US$10 million annually in grants, plus a further US$4 million in technical assistance.

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