Thu, Dec 14, 2006 - Page 2 News List

Su trip to Gambia made official, but itinerary is secret

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) yesterday made public his trip to Gambia but refrained from detailing his route because of concerns over the reaction of the Chinese government.

"The premier will be President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) envoy to participate in the inauguration of Gambia President Yahya Jammeh. However, forgive me for not making public the details of the itinerary and connection flights for the trip," said Cabinet Spokesman Cheng Wen-tsang (鄭文燦) at a press conference held following yesterday morning's weekly Cabinet meeting.

Cheng only confirmed that the delegations will take off from gate B-9 at 10:20pm.

The Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport's Web site showed that the flight that left from gate B-9 last night was China Airlines CI-065 to Amsterdam.

Cheng yesterday "implied" that Su and his delegation would transfer in Brussels, Belgium, whence they would continue on to Banjul, Gambia.

Cheng quoted Su as saying that he would be more than happy to contribute to this country's diplomatic efforts, as it is getting increasingly difficult to engage the rest of the world under diplomatic pressure emanating from Beijing.

"This is the third time the premier has been assigned as the president's envoy," Cheng said. "His previous trips were canceled because of pressure from the Chinese government. This time, we hope that everything will be fine."

Earlier this year, Su was scheduled to take part in Haitian President Rene Preval's inauguration on May 14.

Prior to his departure, however, Port-au-Prince had asked Taipei to send a lower-ranking official due to the Chinese government's threat that if Su were allowed into Haiti, Beijing would use its influence at the UN to block the deployment of peacekeeping forces to Haiti.

Su's other scheduled oversea trip -- this one as the president's envoy to Chad -- was aborted at the last minute. The night prior to his departure, Chad suddenly decided to end its diplomatic relations with Taiwan.

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