Tue, Nov 14, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Deputy foreign minister to lead team to Nicaragua

STILL FRIENDS?Yang Tzu-pao claimed the visit was not unusual after concerns were raised that diplomatic ties could be under threat

By Jewel Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER , WITH DPA, SANTIAGO

Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Javier Hou (侯清山) is to lead a diplomatic team to Nicaragua in the near future to consolidate Taiwan's diplomatic ties with the country, another vice minister said yesterday.

Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Yang Tzu-pao (楊子葆) made the remarks yesterday during a hearing of the foreign affairs committee of the Legislative Yuan.

In a question-and-answer session held yesterday afternoon, several legislators expressed concerns about the possibility of Nicaragua's president-elect Daniel Ortega switching diplomatic ties to China.

The ministry had previously expressed concern that Nicaragua would break off diplomatic relations with Taiwan and set up ties with China if the Sandinistas were elected.

Questions

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴) and Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators Justin Chou (周守訓) and Wu Sung-pei (吳松柏) raised the same question with Yang and asked the ministry to present a strategy.

However, the Sandinista government-elect in Nicaragua said on Sunday that it would maintain its diplomatic ties with Taiwan. Vice president-elect Jaime Morales Carazo told Nicaraguan radio station KW Continente that meetings with investors and Taipei's delegates have been held, and he stressed the two countries' mutual interest in further cooperation.

"We have been clear and categorical: we told our brothers in Taiwan they have been very generous and supportive to our country in many aspects," Morales Carazo said.

Future relations

He said that the future of Nicaraguan relations with China would depend on decisions made by the Beijing and Taipei governments in solving their differences.

Meanwhile, Yang said that Taiwan faced "substantial pressure" from Nicaragua's new political situation but added that President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) talked to Ortega on the phone last Friday and both had a good understanding of each other.

Yang stressed that the team to be led by Hou will not be on a special mission but a regular team that the ministry sends to any of Taiwan's allies that is changing government.

"The diplomatic team will talk about President Ortega's plans for Nicaragua and see how Taiwan can help them and adjust existing cooperation plans if required," Yang said.

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